Bengal government to appeal court verdict, opposition hails order

Kolkata, May 10 (IANS) Describing the Calcutta High Court order on panchayat polls as “impractical”, the West Bengal government Friday said it would move a division bench while the opposition parties welcomed the order and attacked the Mamata Banerjee regime for failing to work according to law.

“This order is impractical. It is impossible to implement it. So the state government cannot accept it. We will prefer an appeal to the division bench by Monday,” state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee told media persons at the state secretariat.

The Calcutta High Court delivered a virtual snub to the Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government, by rejecting the two-phase poll schedule the regime had drawn up earlier and ordered a three-day timetable.

Giving its order on a petition moved by the State Election Commission, Justice Biswanath Somaddar also directed the state government to fully compensate the shortfall in security forces by deploying central paramilitary forces to the “full satisfaction” of the SEC.

The state government, which has all along been pitching for holding the elections by deploying state police personnel, has been asked to intimate the SEC by Saturday about how it proposes to meet the shortfall.

Besides, the court asked the state government to inform the SEC by Saturday about the list of observers for the polls.

Alleging that political parties — Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — had conspired to uphold their vested interest in thwarting the polls, Mukherjee said: “The order says we have to intimate the SEC about the security personnel within 24 hours. And also give a list of 400 observers in the next 24 hours. Is that feasible? Is that practical?

“How can we give details of security arrangements even before the poll schedule is announced? And how can we give the list of observers in a day,” asked Mukherjee.

The CPI-M-led Left Front was gung ho over the order.

“The government has repeatedly failed to work according to law. The responsibility of carrying out elections is that of Election Commission and how the polls will be conducted, the state government cannot finalise that we had repeatedly said this,” said CPI-M state secretary and LF chairman Biman Bose.

“Only a few days are left for this government to complete two years, but still it has not learnt how to govern. The Panchayat election should be conducted fast. Otherwise, the interests of the people will be hampered. They will be deprived of Rs.8,000 crore sanctioned for their development”.

State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya urged the government to accept the verdict. “If they want to create more complications, that will not go down well with the people of the state.”

Another senior Congress leader Om Prakash Mishra said: “The constitutional and reasoned stand of the State Election Commission has been upheld and Trinamool’s attempt to subjugate the SEC and thereby dominate the panchayat election process has been comprehensively rejected.”

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