Acting on court directions, the West Bengal State Election Commission today issued a fresh notification, announcing April 23 as the extended date for filing of nominations for the panchayat election.
Acting on court directions, the West Bengal State Election Commission today issued a fresh notification, announcing April 23 as the extended date for filing of nominations for the panchayat election. Scrutiny of the nominations received on that date would be held on April 25 and the last date for withdrawal of candidature is April 28, the notification said. The filing of nominations will take place from 11 am to 3 pm on April 23. The new dates of the panchayat polls, were, however, not announced by the SEC. The Calcutta High Court yesterday directed the SEC to issue a fresh notification to allow nominations for panchayat polls in West Bengal, quashing the commission’s April 10 order cancelling extension of the deadline for filing nominations.
The high court, which had earlier stayed the election process, also directed the commission to reschedule the dates for the panchayat poll process and accordingly conduct the election. The SEC earlier in the day held elaborate meetings with political parties before issuing the notification. The BJP, which initially boycotted the meeting, alleging that police prevented the party delegation from entering the commission’s office, later responded to the call of the SEC and joined the meeting with the poll panel. Mukul Roy, the BJP delegation representative, told reporters that they were not in favour of one-day panchayat polls in the state. “We have said this to the SEC and demanded at least two-phase polls with the deployment of central paramilitary forces,” Roy said.
He also said the SEC told the delegation that the dates for panchayat election would be announced after holding a discussion with the state government on April 23. After the meeting, Trinamool Congress Secretary General Partha Chatterjee told reporters that the party was ready for the polls anytime. “Our main concern is that the people are not harassed in summer and the panchayat elections are not held during the Ramzan month and monsoon. “Our priority is to expedite the development process initiated by the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,” he said, adding, that the polls could be held in one day if necessary.
Both the Congress and Left parties urged the SEC to ensure that the election is free, fair and peaceful. The commission has to also ensure that the candidates willing to contest are allowed to file their nominations, they said. The panchayat polls in West Bengal were to be held in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5 and the counting of votes was scheduled on May 8. The tenure of the present panchayat in the state will end in August.
The nomination process for the rural poll ended on April 9, but the SEC had extended it by a day the same evening, following a Supreme Court order. However, the notification was withdrawn by the SEC on the morning of April 10. Subsequently, the BJP moved the Calcutta High Court challenging the withdrawal, and Justice Subrata Talukdar stayed the election process on April 12. Apart from the BJP, the CPI(M) and the Congress, too, had moved the high court separately, challenging the SEC’s decision.