The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The three-tier panchayat election to be held in Tripura on July 27, 2019 is witnessing a massive and widespread attack on the democratic process.

During the nomination period, from July 1 to 8, candidates of the CPI(M) and other opposition parties were prevented from collecting and filing nomination papers by armed gangs of the BJP.  Bike-borne hoodlums of the BJP were stationed before the election offices, so that no opposition candidate could collect or submit nomination papers. In most of the places, the police were just onlookers.

Physical attacks on prospective candidates and attacks on CPI(M) offices and leaders such as on the North Tripura District Committee and sub-divisional office in Dharmanagar were resorted to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

Among those who succeeded in filing nominations, BJP hoodlums threatened the candidates and their family members to make them withdraw from the contest.  In such a situation, 121 CPI(M) candidates were forced to withdraw their nomination papers  on the last day of withdrawal – July 11.

As a result of this terror campaign, after the last date of withdrawal, over 90 per cent of the seats in the panchayat samitis and gram panchayats have gone uncontested to the BJP.    For the elections on July 27, there are now 306 candidates of the Left Front in the fray out of 6,111 seats; for the panchayat samiti, there are 56 candidates in the field out of 419 seats; and in the zilla parishad, there are 67 Left Front candidates for the 116 seats.

The CPI(M) and the Left Front are determined to contest the elections in the above seats braving all the attacks and will expose the anti-democratic and fascistic methods of the ruling party.

The BJP is repeating on a larger scale what it did in the by-elections to the three-tier panchayats held in September 2018 where, in 96 per cent of seats, the BJP won uncontested without the opposition parties being able to file nomination papers.

It may be recalled that the BJP had loudly protested the rigging of panchayat elections in West Bengal and had gone to the Supreme Court regarding the matter.  It is doing precisely this in a heightened manner in Tripura under its state government.

The Polit Bureau condemns the BJP’s authoritarian and anti-democratic tactics in Tripura which have made a travesty of the democratic exercise of panchayat elections. It calls upon all democratic forces in the country to raise their voice of protest at this murder of democracy in Tripura.