Fresh nomination for Bengal Panchayat polls on April 23: SEC

election commission

The West Bengal State Election Commission, after meeting with various political parties and representatives of the state government, selected April 23 as the extended day for filing nominations for the coming Panchayat polls, a senior official said on Saturday.

The meeting was convened following a Calcutta High Court order to the SEC to make a fresh announcement extending the deadline for filing of nominations in consultation with the state government and other important stakeholders and finalise a new election schedule for the Panchayat polls.

However, the BJP boycotted the meeting.

“Today, there was a meeting regarding the extension of the nomination deadline. Monday (April 23) would be the day for filing fresh nominations. The notice has not been issued yet. It might be issued by the SEC later,” Officer on Special Duty (OSD) for Panchayat and Rural Development Saurabh Kumar Das told the media persons here.

He said there were no discussions regarding fresh polling date.

Earlier in day, representatives of various political parties met State Election Commissioner Amarendra Kumar Singh and discussed their demands for the Panchayat polling process.

“We do not want the election to happen during too much heat or in the rainy season. We do not want the election to happen in the month of Ramadan either. It should be completed as soon as possible. However, we do not have any objection if one day of polling falls inside the month of Ramadan,” ruling Trinamool Congress’ Secretary General Partha Chatterjee said after meeting the SEC.

The BJP alleged that the state government is putting pressure on the SEC to conduct the entire polling in one day.

It also boycotted the all-party meeting, accusing the SEC of not allowing more than two of their party members.

“We have submitted a copy of this complaint letter to the Commissioner stating that matter is now subjudice. The Registrar of the High Court has been intimated. So the SEC cannot fix any date about the polling process without talking to us,” BJP leader Mukul Roy said, adding since the BJP is the main petitioner in this case, the SEC won’t be able to fix any date for the polling process without discussions with them as that would be contempt of the high court order.

“BJP is a major stakeholder in this case. We are also the petitioner of the case in Calcutta High Court. Our office had a word with the State Election Commissioner today (Saturday) morning and informed that five of our members would come to attend the meeting. But he said only two of us will be allowed.

“The way he behaved with us is a disgrace. There was no one from the SEC to listen to us but police were brought to the fore to stop us. We will again move the court because this Commissioner is not listening to us,” he claimed.

The opposition BJP, CPI-M, Congress and PDS had moved the court, accusing the Trinamool of unleashing massive pre-poll violence against their party workers to prevent them from filing nominations for the polls ever since the process began on April 2.

A single judge bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar on Friday quashed the SEC’s April 10 order that had cancelled the extension for filing nomination which the state poll panel announced on the night of April 9, directed it to issue a fresh deadline extending the time for filing nominations in consultation with the state government and important stakeholders.