WB panchayat polls will be on May 14: EC

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The BJP today alleged that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was "killing" democracy in the state by unleashing "violence" on its workers in the panchayat polls, as a delegation of party leaders met the President, the Vice President and the Home Minister to raise their concerns over such issues.

The panchayat elections will be held across 48,650 seats in 3,358 gram panchayats, 9,217 seats in 341 panchayat samitis and 825 seats in 20 zilla parishads in three phases.

Nilanjan Shandilya, secretary of the commission, on Thursday said that in consultation with the state government, it had been decided that polling across the state will take place on 14 May.

According to this rule, the election can not be held before May 14.

The West Bengal government and the TMC had objected to the nomination date extension by the SEC, which had cited a Supreme Court direction to "allay the apprehensions of aspiring candidates" in its notification which had extended the nomination deadline by a day.

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According to the West Bengal Panchayat Act, 2003, there has to be a gap of at least 21 days between the last date of filing of nominations and the date of polling.

The court also directed the state poll body to allow candidates to file nominations of nine candidates through WhatsApp, News18 reported. The Court has also directed the SEC to submit its report to the Court by April 30. "The Trinamool wants to prevent genuine voters from exercising their franchise, so that anti-socials can indulge in false voting", said Banerjee.

He appealed to the CPI-M workers to put the party on a strong footing in every polling booth and constituency. However, Calcutta High Court had stayed the polling process and new dates are likely to be announced soon.

"The state government asked the SEC unilaterally to hold polls on May 14, and it has obliged. BJP members who filed their nominations have been intimidated, attacked with weapons, bombed, bludgeoned, knifed and even killed", the memorandum said.

When the BJP counsel had asked the judge, Justice Subrata Talukdar, to postpone the election again as the election commission refused to consult them, Justice Talukdar told the BJP counsel that if the other two opposition parties could visit the commission, why the saffron party could not.