WB to have single-phase panchayat polls on May 14

Saturday 28th April 2018 08:31 EDT

KOLKATA: State Election Commission (SEC) has announced the schedule for holding panchayat elections in West Bengal. It said it the polls will be held on May 14 in the state, and the counting will take place on May 17. A spokespeson of the SEC said if a repoll is needed, it will be held on May 16. The decision came after a recommendation from the state government that the polls be held on the finalised date. Elections were earlier set to be held in three phases on May 1, 3, and 5.

The schedule was however pushed back after the Calcutta High Court stayed the polling process on petitions moved by opposition parties that complained they were not being allowed to file nominations allegedly by armed miscreants owing allegiance to the ruling Trinamool Congress. Justice Subrata Talukdar later asked the SEC to extend the deadline for submitting nomination by a day. The SEC, in conformity with the order, declared April 23 as the extended date for filing of nominations.

Opposition parties, angry over the SEC announcement, said the state lacked adequate number of police personnel to provide fool-proof security and alleged the poll panel never discussed the matter with them. BJP leader Pratap Banerjee said, “The court had directed the SEC to hold discussions with all political parties. So far, we have not received invitation for any such deliberations. Secondly, the SEC should ponder over what kind of security it is providing the voters. There are around 58,000 polling booths. The total number of personnel with the state police is also 58,000. Does that mean all police stations will be under lock and key, and all personnel will guard the booths? Or will there be a jungle raj with all miscreants backed by Trinamool flexing their muscles at the booths? The Trinamool wants to prevent genuine votes from exercising their franchise, so that anti-socials can indulge in false voting.”

Biman Bose, Left Front chairman and senior CPI (M), also called out the SEC for not talking to representatives of political parties before taking the step. “The state government asked the SEC unilaterally to hold polls on May 14, and it has obliged. It seems they want a blood-splattered polling day. The state government is leading the SEC through a road which can only push the state to the graveyard of democracy,” he said.

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter