New Delhi, Apr 6 (PTI) Terming the violence in West Bengal ahead of the panchayat polls next month “virtual murder of democracy”, five Left parties today demanded that the time for filling nominations for the election should be extended.

Training their guns at the Trinamool Congress, the five parties, including the CPI(M), CPI, CPIML, AIFB and SUCI said the ruling party in West Bengal has resorted to “full-fledged assault” on democracy and rule of law, and the panchayat election has started to become a “farce”.

The parties also asked for alternative arrangements for the candidates who were prevented from filling nominations, so that they can register their candidature safely.

“We strongly protest against the ongoing violence in West Bengal. It is virtual murder of democracy happening in the state. From the declaration of schedule to murderous attacks on opposition candidates in the nomination process, this year’s panchayat elections have brought out the authoritarian character of TMC most crudely,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told reporters.

“We demand that those who wish to file their nomination should be allowed to do so without any fear and intimidation and the time for filling nominations should be extended,” he said.

Yechury also claimed that the TMC is carrying out “planned attacks” on Left parties where there is a straight fight between them and the ruling party.

Lashing out at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the state administration, the Left leaders also demanded that “firm action” should be taken against those indulging in hooliganism, intimidation and encirclement of administrative offices.

Over a BJP leader moving the Supreme Court seeking for a direction for deployment of central paramilitary forces to maintain law and order for smooth conduct of the panchayat polls scheduled next month, the Left leaders said their priority is that the state administration should conduct free and fair elections.

“May be having polls under central forces is not good, but we want the administration should make all arrangements for free and fair elections in Bengal,” CPIML leader Kavita Krishnan said.

Criticising the State Election Commission, the parties said that the panel has “abjectly surrendered and has remained totally insensitive to atrocities committed”.

The panchayat polls will be held in 20 districts of West Bengal on May 1, 3 and 5. The filing of the nominations began on April 2 and will continue till April 9.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.