The West Bengal State Election Commission (WBSEC) on Monday issued the notification for panchayat polls to be held in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5. With this, the model code of conduct (MCC) came into force across 20 districts on Monday and filing of nomination papers began. It will continue till April 9.
The WBSEC asked the police to tighten security in and around the nomination centres to avoid any untoward incident, as the Opposition parties have alleged that they are not being allowed to file nomination papers. The Commission has also asked the district administrations to clamp prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC “if they feel necessary” in and around the nomination centres to avoid assembling of crowds.
“We have asked the police to ensure foolproof security so that no sort of violence takes place over filing of nominations. The police should ensure that candidates of all the parties are allowed to file nominations freely,” a senior official of the poll panel said.
Asked about reports of violence over filing of nominations in various parts of the state, the official said they are looking into the matter. Meanwhile, central trade unions including CITU, AITUC and INTUC took out a rally to the WBSEC office in Rawdon Street area of Kolkata and demanded that the first phase poll date (May 1) be postponed as it is International Workers’ Day.
Veteran CITU leader Shyamal Chakraborty expressed displeasure after the WBSEC decided to hold polls on May Day. After meeting state election commissioner A K Singh, the CITU leader said, “We met the election commissioner to know why polls are being held on May Day. No one has more right over this day than workers of the country. We have asked the commission to look into our demand. We will also approach the International Labour Organisation if our demand is not met.” He also announced that workers will observe May Day across the state as scheduled and will stage protests on that day.
A Left Front delegation also met the state election commissioner and submitted a deputation to postpone the first phase poll date. “Let us now await a response from the commission,” said senior CPM leader Rabin Deb. WBSEC joint-secretary Santanu Mukhopadhyay, however, said that as per rules, election can be held on any holiday. “However, filing, withdrawal and scrutiny of nomination papers cannot be held on a holiday,” he said.