West Bengal Panchayat Polls: Congress, BJP to move HC today

KOLKATA: The Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party have determined to move the Calcutta High Court on various issues pertaining to forthcoming polls in the 3-tier panchayat system in West Bengal.

Rajiva Sinha, the recently appointed state election commissioner, declared on Thursday night that the single-phase election would take place on July 8.

State Congress president and veteran party Lok Sabha member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury made the announcement as Sinha remained evasive on the deployment of central armed forces for the elections and instead urged voters to have faith in the security measures put in place by the state police.

Kaustav Bagchi, a leader in the Congress and a lawyer for the Calcutta High Court, will only submit a petition to the high court on Friday. The deployment of central forces, plans for online nomination, and the possibility to file nominations at the offices of the state election commission and the district magistrates are among the 12 requests we have for the next panchayat elections,  Bagchi said.

Along with Congress, the West Bengal state chapter of the BJP has chosen to petition the Calcutta High Court on a number of different justifications. In addition to calling for the deployment of central forces, the saffron camp would be against holding the elections on July 8 in a single phase. It has been learned that the party would also protest the state election commissioner's decision to announce the nomination, voting, and counting days for the panchayat elections without calling a meeting of the entire party in its plea.

Suvendu Adhikari, the leader of the opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, reportedly stated that single-phase elections were "unthinkable" given the history of carnage in the elections for rural local bodies. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and state election commissioner Rajiva Sinha will be held accountable, according to Adhikari, if even one person perishes in violence related to the elections.

Kunal Ghosh, the state spokesman for the Trinamool Congress, refuted Adhikari's assertions regarding the declaration of the election date without calling an all-party meeting.

"The state electoral commission is not required to hold an all-party meeting. All of those parties are making justifications for the deployment of the central armed troops that have no organisational base or widespread public support in West Bengal. Eight phases of the state Assembly elections for 2021 were held with the use of centralised troops. Everyone is aware of the outcome, Ghosh said.

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