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SC refuses to interfere with West Bengal panchayat election process, asks BJP to move state poll panel

In its petition to the top court, the BJP had accused the Trinamool Congress of preventing its candidates from filing nomination papers for the elections. The party had also sought an extension of the last date of nomination, which is today, and online availability of nomination papers.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (Express photo/File)

In a setback to the West Bengal BJP, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to intervene in the state panchayat elections and urged the party to approach the state election commission with its complaints against the Trinamool Congress-led government. The top court also refused to reschedule the elections which are slated for next month.

“We have not interfered with the election process but we have granted liberty to all candidates to approach State Election Commission today itself for necessary relief,” a bench of Justices R K Agrawal and A M Sapre said.

In its petition to the top court, the BJP had accused TMC of preventing its candidates from filing nomination papers for the elections. The party had also sought an extension of the last date of nomination, which is today, and online availability of nomination papers.

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Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi had earlier said that the party was forced to approach the top court since the lawyers in Calcutta High Court were on strike since February 19. While referring to the alleged violence unleashed by TMC cadres, Rohatgi said West Bengal was turning into a “trouble state”. The party had also approached the court, demanding deployment of CRPF personnel during the panchayat elections.

However, senior lawyer A M Singhvi who appeared for the state, refuted the claims and accused the saffron party of “fomenting trouble” in Bengal. The advocate alleged that the BJP was creating tension only to seek the attention of the Centre, as the party has “no presence in West Bengal”.

While polling will take place in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5, the counting of votes has been scheduled for May 8.

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