West Bengal panchayat elections: Opposition awaits SC verdict on 20,067 seats TMC won ‘uncontested’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/west-bengal-panchayat-elections-opposition-awaits-sc-verdict-on-20067-seats-tmc-won-uncontested-5184681/

West Bengal panchayat elections: Opposition awaits SC verdict on 20,067 seats TMC won ‘uncontested’

In an interim order on May 10, the Supreme Court had directed the State Election Commission to not announce the winners of the seats — 34.2 per cent of the total in the three-tier structure — where Opposition candidates allegedly could not file nomination papers.

Dilip Ghosh, West Bengal BJP, Tripura election results, CPIM in Bengal, Tripura Left Front, West Bengal BJP, Mamata Banerjee, Kolkata News, Indian Express
West Bengal BJP unit chief Dilip Ghosh. (File)

After the Trinamool Congress’s sweep of the panchayat elections, opposition parties are banking on a July 3 hearing in the Supreme Court in which the fate of 20,067 seats won “uncontested” by the TMC will be decided. In an interim order on May 10, the Supreme Court had directed the State Election Commission to not announce the winners of the seats — 34.2 per cent of the total in the three-tier structure — where Opposition candidates allegedly could not file nomination papers.

State Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee said that the situation is uncomfortable since the fate of these seats will be uncertain till the apex court gives its verdict. “We have no other option but to wait till the Supreme Court order comes,” Mukherjee said. However, Trinamool Congress leaders stated on condition of anonymity that they are not ruling out a fresh round of polls for the seats in question.

They further said that any move to do so would result in added complications. “If the Supreme Court gives a repoll order for such seats, the process will have to be started afresh by the State Election Commission. There will be a lot of complications,” said a senior TMC leader. While opposition parties are hopeful that the SC will order a repoll, they are apprehensive that fresh nominations and elections will result in fresh incidents of violence.

“If the apex court decides that there should be a contest for these seats, we will prove our mettle to the Trinamool Congress. We are ready to file fresh nominations and go for polls in these areas. Though democracy is looted during these polls by the ruling party, we did as much as we could and in various areas where we won,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh had said on Friday.

CPM central committee member Rabin Deb said the party will insist on being able to file nomination papers electronically, in order to avoid bloodshed. “Ideally, we would be happy the entire election process is court-monitored. But we will insist that nominations be filed online so that violence is minimised. The Calcutta High Court allowed nominations which were sent via Whatsapp (in Bhangar),” Deb said.

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Congress leader and advocate Riju Ghosal said even if there is a fresh round of nominations and polling, it would still be a farce. “We have not taken any final decision on our line of argument as regards to applications filed electronically, but will finalise it soon,” Ghosal said.