Wednesday, April 24, 2024
  1. You Are At:
  2. News
  3. West Bengal
  4. Panchayat elections in West Bengal today; pre-poll violence puts security in spotlight | Top Points

Panchayat elections in West Bengal today; pre-poll violence puts security in spotlight | Top Points

The panchayat elections in West Bengal, which witnessed pre-poll violence leading to deaths, will be held today amid tight security. The Governor has appealed to the people to come out in large numbers and cast their votes.

Ashesh Mallick Edited By: Ashesh Mallick Kolkata Updated on: July 08, 2023 0:02 IST
West Bengal panchayat polls
Image Source : PTI All set for West Bengal panchayat polls

Polling day: The single-phased panchayat elections will be held on Saturday (July 7) in West Bengal, where these elections are being seen as a test of the political parties ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The panchayat polls, closely fought in the campaigning with a series of allegations and counter-allegations, also have the power to shape the political landscape for the next year’s crucial general elections.

Details of the polling

Nearly 5.67 crore voters are likely to cast their votes to elect their representatives at the local level for about 928 seats spread across 22 zilla parishads, 9,730 panchayat Samiti, and 63,239-gram panchayats seats.

There are 341 gram panchayats in West Bengal while the number of village panchayat election centres is 58,594. There are 63,239 seats at the Gram Panchayat level, 9730 at Panchayat Samiti and 928 at the Zila Parishad level.

The TMC, in 2018, had won uncontested with 34 per cent of the seats in the panchayat elections, which also witnessed violence.

Security deployment

As many as 19 people have already lost their lives in the pre-poll violence since the announcement of the polling date on June 8. This has instilled fear among people if the toll would rise on the election day or in the aftermath of result declaration.

The question still remains if this figure would increase by the end of the entire electoral process.

The State Election Commission (SEC) had requested the Union Home Ministry for the deployment of the central forces in the state for the rural polls. This came after the Calcutta High Court asked the SEC to deploy central forces in the state, similar to or more than that deployed in the 2013 panchayat polls in Bengal.

In preparation for the panchayat polls, an additional 822 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) were deployed in West Bengal on July 3.

However, there is also apprehension over the proper deployment and effective utilisation of central armed forces on polling day.

With hours to go before polling begins, the arrival of the central forces is still on and is expected to be completed by late Friday night. It remains to be seen how effective the deployment of forces will be given that their arrival will be complete at the 11th hour.

Governor urges people to vote without fail

Urging the people of rural Bengal to exercise their franchise in the panchayat elections without fail, West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose said he would be on the streets along with his team during polling.

Describing the Saturday’s panchayat polls as a ‘fight between ballots and bullets’, the Governor said that he would monitor the situation throughout the state and take corrective measures.

"(Tomorrow) I will be on the road. I will be with my team. For the last few days, the Raj Bhavan was a Mobile Raj Bhavan tomorrow before the voting begins, I will be on the roads. After the voting ends, I will go back. In between, I will also visit the Peace Room to see what is happening throughout the state and to take corrective measures to the extent I am entitled to do so," Bose said on Friday.

Talking about his role on the polling day, Bose said that he would ensure that the interests of the public are protected and that Constitution is followed by everyone.

"I have a role to see that constitutional colleagues get the facilitative environment to exercise their powers. I am here to see that the interests of the public are protected. That is what I do before the election, during the election and after the election," he said.

Bose said that if they exercise their franchise then that would act as an umbrella for the future.

"What is important is tomorrow's election. I think the permanent solution to all the problems will come tomorrow. That black ink on the index finger is the strength of the common man. All voters will go to the polling booth and express their voting rights according to their conscience. Take an umbrella if it is raining, but go to vote. Your vote will be your umbrella in the future. This is a fight between ballot and bullet," he added.

When asked about the TMC’s allegations that he is on the ground to gain publicity, the Governor said that he is doing it to publicise the rights of the common man.

“Yes, I agree with them. I am doing this for publicity, publicity, and publicity alone. To publicise the right of the common man, sanctity of the Constitution, to publicise that human right which is supported by the common man's will cannot be suppressed by any political propaganda. I will seek publicity till the end to popularise what is democracy,” he said.

Bose, who reached Murshidabad district on Friday morning, paid a visit to the deceased Congress worker who was killed during a clash between two groups late Thursday night.

CPI(M) demands history sheeters be taken into custody

The CPI(M) demanded history sheeters be taken into custody to stop them from creating a ruckus during the panchayat polls scheduled in West Bengal on Saturday.

CPI(M) state secretary Mohd Salim alleged a lack of transparency in the functioning of the state election commission (SEC), on the eve of voting in the rural polls, and said that the panel should take steps to make sure the elections are free and fair.

"History-sheeters must be arrested and movement of criminals be stopped to prevent them from intimidating voters," he said at a press conference on Friday.

(With agencies input)

ALSO READ | West Bengal panchayat polls: Violence continues in the state as TMC worker shot dead

ALSO READ | Bengal panchayat polls: BJP expresses apprehensions over TMC attempting to rig elections


Read all the Breaking News Live on and Get Latest English News & Updates from West Bengal