Bengal panchayat polls: HC questions SEC on 20,585 withdrawn nominations
The Calcutta High Court instructed the SEC to file an affidavit with its response to this and the question of 274 seats won uncontested by one party in a single block
As many as 20,585 candidates have withdrawn their nominations for the July 8 panchayat elections in West Bengal, despite opposition parties initially having been concerned that the time to file nominations was too short. The Calcutta High Court on Friday, 23 June, has demanded an explanation from the state election commission (SEC) on this anomalous number.
Chief Justice T.S. Sivagnanam of the single-judge division bench also asked why as many 274 seats were won uncontested in a particular block in the South 24 Parganas district, all by candidates of a single party.
The third question from the high court was about Moinuddin Gazi, a Trinamool Congress candidate in North 24 Parganas district, who apparently managed to file his nomination all the way from Saudi Arabia.
The division bench has asked the SEC to submit explanations for all three concerns through an affidavit by July 27. The matter has been listed for next hearing on June 28.
Justice Sivagnanam had just heard contempt of court petitions filed by Suvendu Adhikari, leader of the opposition in the West Bengal state assembly, and Congress MP Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury, on these matters ahead of the direction to the SEC.
During the hearing, the other topic that came up was deployment of central forces to maintain law and order during the polls.
Additional solicitor general Ashoke Kumar Chakraborty informed the court that the Union home ministry has no difficulty in deploying over 82,000 central armed forces personnel as sought by the SEC. However, he argued, that such a huge deployment would have been more feasible had there been a five-phase poll, as happened in 2013.
Indeed, Adhikari as well as CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty too had questioned whether even 82,000 force personnel would be enough for the single-phase poll this time, considering that the number of voters, districts, polling stations and booths have all gone up manifold since 2013.