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Bengal Panchayat Polls: Blow for Mamata as Calcutta HC Orders State EC to Announce New Polling, Nomination Dates

A single-judge bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar asked the poll panel to consult with the state government for the fresh dates and issue a notification soon.

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Updated:April 20, 2018, 5:06 PM IST
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Bengal Panchayat Polls: Blow for Mamata as Calcutta HC Orders State EC to Announce New Polling, Nomination Dates
File photo of the Calcutta High Court.
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Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court has asked the State Election Commission to announce fresh panchayat poll dates in West Bengal and extend the nomination dates after opposition parties alleged that the ruling TMC government had unleashed a reign of terror and stopped their candidates from filing nominations.

A single-judge bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar asked the poll panel to consult with the state government for the fresh dates and issue a notification soon. The decision is a blow for the Mamata Banerjee-led state government as it had fought against the extension.

The order was passed in response to a writ petition filed by the state's opposition parties alleging large scale violence and intimidation by the ruling TMC that led to obstruction in filing of nominations.

Speaking to News18, Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called the order a moral victory. “The EC was acting on behalf of the state government. I have also requested the high court for deployment of central forces during panchayat polls,” he said.

The panchayat election in the state — scheduled to be held between May 1 and May 8 had been stalled by an order of Justice Talukdar last week after the state election commission extended time for filing nominations but then then reversed it the next day.

The opposition parties in the state – BJP, Congress and the Left – had accused the election watchdog of toeing the line of the state government by reversing its decision on the nomination date. After the parties moved the court, the SEC told the court that the judiciary could not intervene once the election process had started.

Chief Minister Banerjee had accused the opposition of deliberately delaying the polls and said that it had stalled development works in West Bengal, as the model code of conduct was in force.

"If you really believe in the people, then why are you not going in for the elections? You are deliberately delaying the process, putting up various political questions. I will not comment about the court's verdict. The state has progressed a lot. But I feel sorry that because the code of conduct is in place, we cannot take any new decision,” she had said.

TMC general secretary Partha Chatterjee had alleged that the opposition parties were not ready to face the poll process. "They know that they will be rejected by the people and therefore they are delaying the process," he said.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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