Kolkata: Political violence has already claimed 20 lives ahead of the panchayat polls in West Bengal. The five phase panchayat polls in July is a referendum on Mamata's two years in power - a high stake political battle between the Trinamool Congress, the Left Front, the Congress and the BJP to rule West Bengal.
"There is no violence in the state. There was more violence earlier, this is the only election which will be held peacefully thanks to Mamata," North 24 Parganas TMC in charge Sovan Chattopadhyay said.
"There is only violence and more violence by the Trinamool Congress. There is no rule of law in the state," Leader of Opposition in WB Assembly and CPM leader Surjya Kanta Mishra said.
In the bitter wrangling for political territory and control a five phase poll with central and state forces as decreed by the Supreme Court, now seems the only solution. "That's why the Supreme Court wants and has granted central forces," West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan said.
Elections after elections, year after year, the cycle of political violence continues unabated in Bengal no matter which party is in power. The four pronged battle for rural Bengal is fought not just with violence on the streets but also violence of political rhetoric.
Under attack from the Opposition and a section of intellectuals over the recent incident of rape and murder of a college student, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on June 20 alleged that panelists of some local TV news channels critical of her were involved in pornography. "Who are these people that are invited on TV channels? Some of them are even involved in pornography! And they claim to be social workers?" Mamata said.
"We will bring the city to a halt. We will respond to the terror tactic of Trinamool Congress," senior CPM leader Gautam Deb said.
And between the high pitched political rhetoric and violence on the streets, lakhs of political workers on the ground in Bengal's villages are caught in the political crossfire.