Bengal SEC withdraws extended deadline for panchayat poll nominations

In a U-turn, the West Bengal Election Commission today withdrew the extended deadline for filing nominations for next month's panchayat elections in the state.

State Election Commissioner A K Singh cancelled the poll panel's earlier order which had extended the deadline for filing nominations, sources in the commission said.

Opposition parties -- the BJP and the CPI(M) -- alleged that the State Election Commission (SEC) was forced by the ruling Trinamool Congress to cancel its previous order extending the deadline.

The new notification issued by the SEC said, "It appears that there was no specific direction by the Supreme Court of India for extension of the nomination date. Therefore on perusal of all the papers and considering all the points, the Commission hereby recalls the said order and therefore rescinds the (previous) order."

Though the last day for filing nominations for the rural polls slated for May 1, 3 and 5 was till yesterday, the SEC had extended it till 3 pm today on complaints that the opposition candidates had been prevented from filing papers.

According to the new notification, the SEC received two letters, one from the special secretary of the state government and another one from the Trinamool Congress, citing legal infirmities in the previous order of the Commission.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh alleged that the SEC was "forced" by the TMC to withdraw its previous order.

"I have doubt whether the SEC can continue till next month's panchayat elections. Earlier, a State Election Commissioner had to resign," he said, adding that the BJP is ready for the panchayat polls.

CPI(M) leader in the state Assembly Sujan Chakrabarty alleged that the SEC has "no freedom and the state ministers have put pressure on him".

Left workers staged demonstration in front of the SEC office here protesting the withdrawal of the order extending the deadline.

Refuting the charges, TMC leader and MP Kalyan Banerjee said opposition party leaders had put pressure on the SEC to give the "illegal order" extending the deadline.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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