The Election Commission in West Bengal today moved the Calcutta Hight Court seeking rejection of the government notification on poll schedule as the state government decided to contest it.
The State Election Commission in its petition claimed that Section 42 of the West Bengal Panchayat Election Act,which states that the state government is empowered to notify election in consultation with the commission,is unconstitutional.
The commission also prayed that it be allowed to seek and deploy as many number of paramilitary and other central forces as it may feel necessary for holding of the panchayat poll.
Justice Biswanath Somadder,before whose court the matter was brought up,directed the commission’s counsel L C Bihani to get the matter listed for hearing.
The petition,which was filed today,is likely to be listed for hearing tomorrow.
State panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee told reporters that the government would contest the SEC petition.
“We are contesting the petition filed by the State Election Commission on legal points and allied issues,” state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said after holding a series of meetings with his officials,Advocate General Bimal Chatterjee and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The Trinamool Congress government and the Election Commission have been at loggerheads over the schedule of the upcoming panchayat polls,with the government announcing that these will be held in two phases and that too under the supervision of the state police.
The state government announced recently that the elections will be held on April 26 and 30.
The Commission had earlier proposed that the panchayat polls be held in three phases and central forces be deployed for the sake of free and fair elections. It also wrote an 11-page letter to the state government explaining why the poll schedule wasn’t acceptable to it.
Even as the matter reached the court,a Left Front delegation today met Governor M K Narayanan over the stalemate.
“We met the Governor and appealed to him to intervene and start a conciliatory approach to solve the problem because we want the panchayat elections to be held in time,” Left Front chairman Biman Bose told reporters after the meeting.
Bose accused the ruling party of hatching a ‘pre-planned conspiracy’ to delay the polls forcing the State Election Commission to take to legal recourse.
Claiming that all ministers were not aware of it,he alleged that only panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee and Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy were party to it.
“Mukherjee was given the duty of creating confusion by triggering a tiff with the SEC. Roy was given the duty of defending the ruling party’s image in the public,” Bose alleged,adding that the ruling party was trying to buy time by delaying the process before the grassroot polls.
Bose said,”The government doesn’t have any achievements to showcase. And,the Trinamool is plagued by inner fighting and factional feud,so it is trying to buy time before the panchayat polls to tackle those problems.”
Bose claimed that after the end of the tenure of the present rural bodies,they would stop getting funds for rural development schemes from the Centre.
The state BJP has also filed a petition before the high court praying that sections 42 and 43 of the state Panchayat Election Act be declared unconstitutional.
While the state government has announced that the elections would be held in two phases under the supervision of the state police,the SEC has proposed that the polls be held in three phases under the supervision of central forces.