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Millennium Post

Around 3.5L party workers to be deployed for Panchayat polls

Kolkata: The dates have been announced and the stage is all set for the Panchayat polls in Bengal.
It may sound unbelievable but the reality is any political party contesting in the forthcoming Panchayat polls will have to engage 3,43,816 party workers to field candidates and man the polling stations on the day of the election.
The three-tier Panchayat election will be held in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5 respectively.
The political parties will have to field 58,816 candidates for the polls. In Gram Panchayats, the parties have to field 48,751 candidates followed by 9,240 candidates in Panchayat Samity and 825 candidates in Zilla Parishads.
But the most interesting part will be on the day of the three-part elections, the parties will have to engage 2.85 lakh workers to man the polling stations. There are 57,000 odd polling stations and the political parties will have to engage five persons in each polling station. These would include two persons — one polling agent along with his reliever and three volunteers.
With this backdrop, apart from the Trinamool Congress, it is difficult for other political parties to deploy such a huge manpower. The TMC is ready for the show and is likely to announce the names of the candidates soon.
The first three-tier Panchayat election was held in Bengal for the first time after the Left Front government came to power in 1977. Siddhartha Shankar Ray's government had prepared the Panchayat laws but could not implement them as the Congress government was defeated in 1977 Assembly polls.
From 1977 till 2003, if we see the statistics we find that the Left Front candidates had won in 85 percent of the Zilla Parishad seats on an average.
In Panchayat Samity, it retained 75 percent seats on an average while in Gram Panchayats, it got around 50 percent seats. Thus, the party's organisation was required to control the Zilla Parishads and Gram Panchayat seats.
In 2008's Panchayat election, the Trinamool Congress made heavy dents in the Left Front vote bank winning two Zilla Parishads, namely, East Midnapore and South 24-Parganas. The TMC improved its performance in 2009 Lok Sabha election. It won the 2010 Kolkata Corporation election and put an end to the CPI(M)'s 34 years rule in 2011.
The Trinamool Congress, over the years, has increased its organisational strength. Political experts said none of the opponents will be able to fill up all the seats in Gram Panchayats and Panchayat Samity.
The CPI(M) had the organisation but over the years, due to defeat in the elections since 2011, there has been massive erosion in its vote bank. The Congress has virtually lost its existence outside Malda and Murshidabad. The BJP has no organisation in the rural belt.
The CPI(M) had shown that the success of the party lied in deploying party workers on the day of the election. The TMC quickly picked it up and developed the art of election engineering will much skill and perseverance.

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