The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Friday welcomed the Supreme Court verdict rejecting the pleas of CPM and BJP seeking cancellation of polls for over 20,000 panchayat seats. The seats, which account for 34 per cent of the total in the state, were won uncontested by the ruling party in May.
While the TMC described the Supreme Court verdict as a “victory of democracy”, opposition parties vowed to “fight the TMC democratically”.
“It is a victory of democracy and maa, mati and manush. The BJP, CPM and Congress wanted to stall development here. Today’s verdict is also a victory against the Opposition and their petty politics,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said.
State Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said, “We are very happy with this verdict… It is a tight slap in the face of the Opposition. We will soon form boards in these seats and work will start in 7 to 8 days. This verdict has proved their allegations are baseless. They should apologise to the people of the state.”
The apex court also set aside a Calcutta HC order allowing e-filing, through WhatsApp or e-mail, of nominations in state panchayat polls. “The high court was in error while allowing filing of nomination papers through electronic forms,” it said, adding, “no such process is either mentioned nor allowed under provisions of the Representation of Peoples Act”.
The state BJP, meanwhile, said it would fight the TMC in a democratic way. “We accept the Supreme Court’s verdict. We will fight TMC democratically in the next Lok Sabha elections. The people of the state will give them a befitting reply,” said state BJP president Dilip Ghosh.
“More than 70 people were killed in the run-up to the rural polls and it is assumed that the court did not order fresh elections to avoid further bloodshed,” he added.
CPM MLA Sujan Chakraborty said, “Votes were looted and Opposition candidates were not allowed to file their nominations. This is not a victory for the ruling party.”
Panchayat polls were held in phases for 48,650 posts in Gram Panchayats, 825 seats in Zilla Parishads and 9,217 seats in Panchayat Samitis.
“Widespread violence was reported during the rural polls. Opposition candidates were prevented by ruling party workers from filing nominations. The court verdict was the only hope for such candidates. We will fight this in a democratic way,” said CPM leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said, “We all knew how panchayat polls were held in the state. It was marred by violence and Opposition workers were targeted by the ruling partymen. This verdict goes against the people of the state.”
Sources at the State Election Commission said that it would soon issue notification for 34 per cent uncontested seats won by TMC candidates after receiving the copy of the verdict. State panchayat polls were held on May 14 and results were declared on May 17.