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The road ahead for Bengal after Calcutta HC suspends panchayat poll process

West Bengal is set to vote in the panchayat polls on May 1, 3 and 5.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2018 19:07 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Bengal panchayat polls,Bengal poll violence,Trinamool Congress
BJP supporters protest in Kolkata on April 10 against the state election commission withdrawing its order extending the deadline to file nominations. (Samir Jana / HT)

The Calcutta high court on Thursday suspended till April 16 all election processes connected to the West Bengal panchayat polls.

The court’s order — unprecedented in the history of the rural elections that started in the state in 1978 — came after the BJP approached it, alleging violence by the Trinamool Congress since April 2, when filing of nominations began.

The Trinamool Congress now plans to move a division bench against the order of Justice Subrata Talukdar.

The trigger came after the state election commission, on April 10, withdrew its own order extending the deadline to file nominations barely 12 hours after issuing it.

The elections, which will be held in three phases in May, are being seen as a test of strength for the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition BJP, CPI(M) and Congress ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls.

Here’s how the next few days are likely to play out:

1. If the division bench quashes the Thursday’s order, the election process will resume from Friday. In that case, the BJP may move the Supreme Court against the division bench order.

2. If the division bench upholds the order, it may lead to the state election commission announcing a new deadline for filing of nomination papers. The original period for filing of nominations was between April 2 and 9.

3. In that situation, the state election commission also has to decide fresh dates for scrutiny of nominations and withdrawal of nominations.

4. If a new deadline for nomination is announced, the dates for polling — at present scheduled for May 1, 3 and 5 — will have to change since there has to be a 21-day gap between last date of nomination and the first day of polling.

First Published: Apr 12, 2018 18:32 IST