Former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee today expressed concern over the violence in the panchayat poll process and said the state is heading towards a situation where demands for imposition of the Article 356 might come up.
"It is really a matter of grave concern that our state is going through such a violent phase where everyday we are witnessing so much of violence over filing of nominations. It is really painful to see that democracy is being throttled," Chatterjee told reporters.
"Many people are questioning whether democracy really exists in Bengal. I don't know, after a few days there may be a demand for imposition of Article 356. Some are already talking about it," he said.
It is very painful that candidates are beaten up to stop them from filing nomination and people are getting killed, Chatterjee said adding that people should come out in protest against this violence.
Parties are busy labelling a person killed in violence as their own party cadre but nobody is bothered about stopping the violence, he said.
"The motive behind this violence is to clinch to power at any cost even at the cost of human lives. I have been a 10-time MP, I have never witnessed such violence," he said.
"The ruling party is saying opposition parties are doing it. My question is if the opposition is so powerful then what is the police administration doing. Why are they sitting idle and are mute spectators," he said.
Criticising State Election Commissioner A K Singh, he said, "He is acting as if he is helpless. It is really sad that he is unable to execute his powers. He is taking a decision and then again he is changing it."
The SEC had extended the last date of filing nominations by a day on the night of April 9 but cancelled the order the very next morning allegedly under pressure from the ruling Trinamool Congress.
Reacting to Chatterjee's allegation, TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said, "Somanth Chatterjee is saying democracy doesn't exist in Bengal. Earlier he had said that democracy doesn't exist in the CPI(M)."
Somnath Chatterjee, a former CPI(M) leader, was expelled from the party in 2008 for not resigning after the party withdrew its support from the Congress led UPA-1 government over the Indo-US nuclear deal.