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24 Apr 2018

None spared in nomination-foil drive.... Poll date talks put off, eyes on court

TT, Calcutta: The Bengal election commission deferred a Monday meeting with the government to reset panchayat poll dates amid Opposition allegations of violence by ruling Trinamul activists during the court-ordered nomination extension.

"We were waiting for a call from the poll panel to hold discussions for finalising the (fresh) poll dates. But the commission informed us that the meeting could not be held on Monday. I am not sure whether it would be held on Tuesday," said a senior official.

A section of government officials said the meeting's postponement was significant given that the poll panel was flooded with complaints from Opposition parties about being prevented from filing nominations on Monday.

Calcutta High Court had earlier extended the nominations after similar complaints. According to some others, with the violence repeated during four-hour nomination on Monday, the poll panel could be buying time before taking a final call on the new election dates.

The earlier dates of May 1, 3 and 5 have to be reworked as the court had asked the commission to draw up a new poll schedule while extending the nominations.

"It is clear the poll panel is hesitant after clashes on Monday. The panel will wait before taking a final call on the dates as the issue of preventing Opposition parties from filing nominations is bound to come up in the high court on Tuesday," said the senior official.

Senior officials believe the court will on Tuesday be flooded with cases seeking contempt action against the panel on Tuesday.

The BJP, Congress, CPM and the PDS said they would seek such action against the panel for its failure to implement the earlier court order, passed by a single bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar, to ensure nominations of willing candidates.

The BJP said it was collating information on all instances of violence and threats by Trinamul. "On Tuesday, the party will file a petition seeking contempt proceedings against the poll panel."

Several other matters, including pleas against cancellation of nominations, are also likely to come up.

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