The first phase of the crucial panchayat polls in West Bengal will begin on Thursday even as the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) kept up its attack against the State Election Commission (SEC).
Criticising the state government for 'dilly-dallying', the Supreme Court had on July 2 refused to reschedule the dates of the polls which are to be conducted in five phases beginning from July 11 as per its direction.
In the first phase, polling will be held in Bankura, West Midnapur and Purulia districts in the former Maoist stronghold of Junglemahal.
Of the total 58,865 seats going to polls, 6,274 have been won uncontested, a majority by the TMC.
In all, 1.7 lakh candidates are in fray in over 17 districts.
Most panchayats and zilla parishads are now under control of the Left Front.
The ruling TMC, and the opposition Congress have failed to reach an understanding over seats and the CPI(M)-led Left Front, which is still smarting from the humiliating defeat in the assembly polls, is looking to cash in on it.
TMC leaders claim that the party is confident about continuing its winning streak since the assembly polls in 2011 and prove that the Saradha chitfund scandal, Kamduni rape and murder and a string of other incidents will not have a bearing on the poll results.
The Congress is keen to prove that it can play a decisive role in the state and that it has not been overshadowed by Mamata Banerjee's image after it quit the TMC government.
"TMC has been continuously saying that the victory in West Bengal (in the assembly polls) is to their credit. But it is not only because of them; the fact that the Congress played a pivotal role will be proved through these elections," WBPCC chief Pradip Bhattacharjee told PTI.
Bhattacherjee said his party has put up candidates in 30,000 seats.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose alleged intimidation by the Trinamool Congress and claimed that party-men could not file nominations in 6000-odd seats.
However, TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay dismissed the charges.
"The allegation is baseless. CPI(M) is afraid as they are sure to be defeated in the elections," he said.