statesman news service
KOLKATA, 6 JUNE: In the wake of around 5,259 panchayat seats going uncontested for the first phase of the panchayat polls scheduled to be held on 2 July, mostly in favour of the ruling Trinamul Congress, the State Election Commission (SEC) has sought reports from the district magistrates of seven south Bengal districts that have thrown up the maximum number of uncontested candidates.
The SEC also tonight hinted that in the absence of adequate security for the polls, it might increase the number of polling phases from three to four and there could be even multiple-phase voting in a district. “But this is a matter that is to be decided with due permission from the High Court,” SEC secretary Tapas Ray said this evening. State election commissioner, Ms Mira Pande, held a meeting with senior counsel Samaraditya Pal at the latter’s residence and is believed to have discussed the issue.
The DMs of seven districts that have been asked to probe and communicate to the SEC at the earliest the exact reasons for the panchayat seats going uncontested in their respective jurisdictions include, South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, East and West Midnapore, Bankura and Burdwan.
“There are several blocks in these districts that have thrown up an unusually high number of uncontested seats. We have sought to know from the DMs, who happen to be the District Panchayat Election Officers (DPEO), the exact reason for this,” Mr Ray said. Another senior SEC official said that the move was aimed at “collecting necessary information for any statutory move that the poll panel might take in future and there was no possibility of allowing nominations for such seats afresh.”
Mr Ray said that the SEC would write to the state government in a day or two asking it to furnish in detail the availability of security personnel according to the formula put forward by a Calcutta High Court Division Bench on 14 May. “We must know these details if we are to move into the next phase of the poll process, that is, voting,” he said.