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Bengal panchayat elections over, all eyes now on 34% uncontested seats

Bengal panchayat and rural development minister Subrata Mukherjee says there will be discomfort and uncertainty till the SC’s verdict on this issue of uncontested seats

india Updated: May 20, 2018 14:54 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Uncontested,Seats,Panchayat
The Supreme Court is set to hear a petition on these uncontested seats on July 3. (PTI File Photo)

With the completion of West Bengal panchayat polls, the focus of the ruling and opposition parties are now on the 34.2% uncontested seats of the total in the three tiers of panchayat system.

The Supreme Court is set to hear a petition on these uncontested seats on July 3.

In an interim order on May 10, it had directed the state election commission not to announce the winners of these 20,067 seats where opposition candidates could not file nominations.

According to state panchayat and rural development minister, Subrata Mukherjee, there will be discomfort and uncertainty till the SC’s verdict on this issue. “But we have no other option but to wait for the apex court order,” he said.

However, another state minister, who did not wish to be named, said if the SC orders a fresh round of polling from the beginning, it would have a lot of related complications.

Opposition parties are apprehensive that fresh nominations and elections will invariably result in more violence, and bloodshed by ruling party activists.

CPI(M) central committee member, Rabin Deb said the party will insist on acceptance of applications filed electronically, so that bloodshed and violence can be avoided at least during the nomination phase.

“Ideally, we would be happy if the entire election process is court-monitored,” he said.

Congress leader and advocate, Riju Ghosal said that even if there is a fresh round nomination and election, that will be nothing but a farce as it had been before.

“But we have not taken any final decision on our line of arguments as regards to applications filed electronically, but will finalise soon,” he said.

“If the apex court decides that there should be contest in these seats, we will prove our mettle to the Trinamool Congress,” said BJP state president Dilip Ghosh on Friday.

Legal experts, however, claim that there are some complications on the issue of nominations filed electronically.

While the West Bengal Panchayat Elections Act has no provision for nominations to be filed electronically, there is a provision for the same under Section 6 of the Information Technology Act 2000.

Calcutta high court advocate Kaushik Gupta pointed out that for the second option, the state government has to notify the provision, which the Bengal government has not done yet.

First Published: May 20, 2018 14:52 IST