Repolling in 11 booths in Bengal local body polls, opposition to boycott

Kolkata, Oct 8 (IANS) The West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) on Thursday announced repolling in 11 booths – 9 in Bidhannagar and two in Asansol civic bodies – will be held on Friday with the results of the October 3 municipal elections being declared Saturday.

Incidentally, the announcement of the repolling and the date of counting were made by interim state election commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay on a day when his appointment to the post was challenged before the Calcutta High Court.

Meanwhile, the opposition – the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced boycotting Friday’s repoll, alleging the state election commissioner was “acting on behalf of the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress”.

While the Left, Congress and BJP unanimously had called for cancelling the entire polls held October 3 citing “massive violence and malpractices by the Trinamoola, Bandyopadhyay – the state transport secretary – who on Wednesday assumed charged as the interim state election commissioner, announced repolling will be held only in 11 booths.

“Re-polling in the nine booths spread across four wards of Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation and two booths in Asansol Municipal Corporation will be held on October 9. The results for both the municipal corporations would be announced on October 10,” he said.

Bandyopadhyay assumed the charge as the panel chief after S.R. Upadhyay put in his papers on Tuesday allegedly succumbing to pressure from political parties following rampant violence and irregularities in the October 3 local body polls.

Both the Left Front and the BJP during the day refused accepting the polls panel’s verdict and announced boycotting the repolls.

“We don’t accept the decision of the repolling and we have decided to boycott them. The interim state election commissioner has acted like an agent of the Trinamool. This decision is nothing but farce,” senior CPI-M leader Rabin Deb told media persons.

A Left delegation led by Deb also met Governor K.N. Tripathi seeking his intervention in he matter.

Charging the Trinamool government of destroying democracy in the state, BJP demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“By appointing one of its men as the SEC, the Trinamool government is destroying democracy in the state. We are not only boycotting the repolling but also demand the resignation of the chief minister for belittling a statutory body like the poll panel,” said state BJP president Rahul Sinha.

During the day, a petition was filed before the high court bench of Justice Dipankar Dutta, challenging the appointment of Bandyopadhyay as the SEC.

Filed by a resident of Bidhannagar, the petition challenged the constitutionality of the provision for appointing a serving government officer as a provisional state election commissioner claiming that it would affect the independence of the poll panel.

The petitioner also sought an interim order prohibiting the interim SEC from taking any decision concerning the October 3 polls.

The matter will next come up for hearing on Friday.

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