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HC stays WB Panchayat polls till April 16: Oppn parties welcomes move

HC also asked SEC to file a comprehensive status report on the poll process by Monday

Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata 

Voters line up to cast their votes. File photo: Reuters
Representative image of voters line up to cast their votes | File photo: Reuters

Opposition parties in West Bengal on Thursday termed the high court order staying the  2018 Panchayat Election process in the state "victory of democracy over dictatorship" and sought the resignation of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the alleged violence during filing of nominations.

The polls are scheduled to be held in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5.

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday stayed the process for panchayat elections till further orders and said it would hear on April 16 the pleas challenging the State Election Commission's decision to withdraw its April 9 notification, which had extended the date for filing nominations by a day.

It also asked the SEC to file a comprehensive status report on the poll process, detailing the number of nominations filed and the percentage of nominations rejected, among other information by Monday.

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is in the city to participate in a sit-in demonstration to protest against the alleged violence, said the judgment was a blow to the ruling TMC.

"The ruling TMC has tried to turn the panchayat polls into farce by not allowing the opposition candidates to file nominations. This high court ruling is a triumph of democracy over dictatorship," Vijayvergiya told reporters.

Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy said the order is the "victory for the masses of Bengal".

Leader of the opposition and senior Congress leader, Abdul Mannan, too, welcomed the judgment and demanded the resignations of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and State Election Commissioner A K Singh.

"The people of Bengal can get justice only by moving court because the entire state administration has been turned into a back office of the ruling TMC. The chief minister and the SEC should immediately tender their resignation as they have turned the poll process into a joke," Mannan said.

Senior CPI (M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said "democratic rights were being throttled" in West Bengal under the TMC rule.

The CPI(M)-led Left Front has called for a six-hour strike in West Bengal on Friday in protest against the pre-poll violence in the state.

TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee, on his part, said people have "full faith" on Mamata Banerjee.

"We will not comment on the court order. Law will take its own course. The opposition parties do not enjoy popularity among the masses and that is why they are approaching the courts (to stall proceedings)," he said.

First Published: Thu, April 12 2018. 16:16 IST