Bengal BJP to move court against single-phase panchayat polls

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Kolkata, April 28 (IANS) Terming the West Bengal State Election Commission’s announcement to hold single-phase panchayat elections on May 14 as “illegal”, the BJP state unit on Saturday said it will move the court for polls spread over three or more phases.

“This election is illegal. We will move to court on Monday. The SEC’s announcement of the panchayat polls on May 14 is completely unlawful. The polling was earlier scheduled to be held in three phases. How can it be brought down to just one phase after the filing of nominations are over,” asked BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha.

“The polling date of May 14 must be cancelled and a fresh notice issued to hold the elections in three or more phases,” he said.

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The Communist Party of India-Marxist and Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) have already decided to move the court on Monday on the ground that the SEC allegedly announced the election date without discussing security arrangements with the opposition parties as per the Calcutta High Court’s order.

The Bengal rural body polls were earlier slated to be held on May 1, 3 and 5.

After the High Court order, the state poll panel extended the last date for filing of nominations to April 23 and rescheduled the polling on May 14 and re-polls, if required, on May 16.

Opposition parties equivocally condemned the SEC’s decision to hold single-phase election following a meeting with State Election Commissioner Amarendra Kumar Singh on Saturday on security arrangements on the polling day.

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“The SEC does not have any concrete plan on security on the polling day. It has not decided upon deployment of police and number of armed police required at polling booths. It is strange that the State Election Commissioner just inquired about our demands but did not divulge any details about his own planning,” BJP leader Pratap Banerjee said after the meeting.

Echoing the CPI-M, the Congress also criticised the state government’s decision to ask for additional forces from neighbouring states instead of asking for central forces.

“If forces are brought from other states, they should be given complete freedom to take action, whenever required. There is no point in bringing forces from outside if the local administration tries to manipulate them and do not let them move,” a Congress leader said.

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