Bengal minister hopes panchayat poll row is resolved

Kolkata, May 12 (IANS) Observing that its legal battle with the State Election Commission (SEC) would delay the conduct of panchayat polls, resulting in constitutional complexities, a West Bengal minister Sunday hoped for an amicable solution to the raging legal contest.

“Of course, constitutionality complexities would arise if the panchayat polls are not held in time. But such complexities can be solved. If we arrive at an agreement whether under the instruction of the court or out of court, then we can get over these complexities,” Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said.

With the court observing in its order that holding the polls before the tenure of existing panchayat bodies expire was “absolutely essential”, Mukherjee said in such a situation, the government will pass ordinance empowering other officials to run the rural bodies till the elections are held.

Mukherjee, however, reiterated the state government’s hardened stand against the Calcutta High Court verdict upholding the primacy of the State Election Commission in holding the panchayat polls, saying it would seek suspension of the order on the verdict in its appeal to be filed Monday.

“In our appeal against the verdict before a division bench, the first thing we will seek is a stay order on the verdict which is totally impractical and not possible to adhere to,” he said.

The senior Trinamool Congress leader, who had declared the government’s intention to go to the Supreme Court if needed, said the holding of the panchayat polls was not possible any time soon.

“As the matter is in court, I cannot confidently say that the (panchayat) polls will be held this year itself. Maybe after the monsoon or the Durga Puja, we may see the elections,” added Mukherjee.

On Friday, Mukherjee had announced that the government would move the division bench Monday against the order, which he termed as “impractical, impossible to implement and unacceptable”.

Giving a jolt to the government, the high court Friday ordered a three-phase panchayat polls with deployment of central paramilitary personnel.

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