Stage finally set for Panchayat elections in Bengal today
Kolkata: After weeks of sporadic violence and intense court battles, the 9th Panchayat polls are all set to be held on Monday in 20 districts of Bengal, which will give a clearer picture of the battle lines ahead of the general elections next year.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to the people of the state to come out in huge numbers and vote peacefully for the development of rural Bengal. "The state government has taken all measures for safety and security and people should not fall prey to any sort of instigation," Banerjee said.
A senior official in the SEC said all polling personnel have reached the polling stations in spite of the inclement weather in South Bengal on Sunday afternoon. State Election Commissioner A K Singh on Sunday took stock of the entire situation and directed all the concerned district administration to ensure that people can exercise their voting rights without any trouble.
"We have directed the administration to have elaborate security measures in place at Bhangar in South 24-Parganas where a supporter of an Independent candidate was killed in firing on Friday," the official said.
As per statistics presented by the SEC after more than 34 percent of the seats going uncontested, there will be votes in 621 seats out of 827 in Zilla Parishads (ZP) , 6119 out of 9217 seats in the Panchayat Samitis (PS) and 31789 out of 48650 seats in the Gram Panchayats (GP). The total number of candidates for ZP, PS and GP are 2872, 20535 and 92204 respectively.
A total of 5,08,35,002 people would cast their votes from 7 am to 5 pm on that day. Counting of votes will be on May 17. Voting will be on ballot papers and not through EVMs this time. Repolling would be held where polling percentage will be 15 percent more or less than the average polling percentage of the tier of the block concerned. "There will be medical camps at all distribution centres and ORS if needed for the polling party," an SEC official said.
The Supreme Court has now asked the SEC not to issue winning certificates in case of the uncontested seats.
Around 71,500 armed police, 80,000 civic volunteers and 1800 personnel from other states have been deployed for conducting the elections and poll-related tasks. One armed personnel and a lathi-wielding constable has been deputed in each of the 47,451 booths.
The Kolkata Police have also chipped in 7,000 constables including Home Guards along with 1,500 additional Sub-Inspectors and five Sub-Inspectors for poll duty on Monday.
There will be a total of 190 observers including 20 special observers for the polls. The SEC's control room that was started since Sunday morning has seen a number of calls from the commoners and some candidates too in connection with the election.
"This control room is for assisting people to exercise their voting rights without any hassle. The control room numbers are 033-22805803, 033-22805804," the official added.
It may be mentioned that this is for the first time in the state when a person will be allowed to cast his/her voting rights by furnishing Aadhaar card. The alternative documents other than EPIC that can be used for voting include passport, driving license, service identity cards with photographs issued to employees by state, Centre and undertakings, passbooks with photographs issued by banks or post office, PAN card, MGNREGA card, health insurance smart card, pension documents, SC/ST/OBC certificate, freedom fighter identity card, arms license with photograph, physically disabled certificate with photograph, bidi worker identity cards.