The West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court, seeking a stay on the Calcutta High Court order asking it to accept nominations of candidates who had filed papers for the upcoming panchayat election on email, prompting a stinging critique from the CPM. In its plea, the SEC said that the high court order would cause it “irreparable loss and injury”, which cannot be compensated.
Blaming a “nexus” among the ruling TMC, the state government and the SEC for this move, CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra accused the state government of deepening the uncertainty over holding the panchayat polls.
Anticipating the step, the West Bengal unit of both CPM and the BJP had filed caveat before the top court, praying that no order should be passed without hearing them.
Appearing for BJP, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi approached a bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud and said that a copy of the petition had not been served to him. The petition is pending with the Supreme Court registry and has not been listed for hearing yet.
On Tuesday, the High Court had asked SEC to accept nominations of CPM candidates who had emailed their nomination papers within the deadline of 3 pm on April 23.
On Wednesday, CPM’s Mishra said, “We were surprised to see five petitioners from the SEC. This is something new… The state election commissioner A K Singh himself has challenged the order. We had apprehended such a move and therefore our advocate has filed a caveat…” Mishra said all seven panchayat polls were held on time under successive Left Front governments in the state. “…there was no uncertainty over holding such polls (during Left governance), which we are witnessing over the last two panchayat polls under the TMC,” he said. He praised Singh’s predecessor, Mira Pande, for having a “spine”.
The CPM leader alleged that candidates whose email nominations the High Court ordered should be accepted were facing threats from TMC workers to withdraw them. “After the court delivered its verdict… the ruling party made attempts to identify new CPM candidates and started threatening them to withdraw their nominations. Some of our candidates were beaten up to prevent them from taking part in the election,’’ he said. “We have lodged complaints against this with the authorities concerned.”
In its order on Tuesday, the High Court had observed that although filing of nominations on email is not a recognised procedure under West Bengal Panchayat Act, 2003, in a situation where there are allegations of that candidates are being obstructed from filing nominations, as had been noted even by the SEC as well, the state poll panel should have allowed filing of papers electronically.
The CPM had submitted a list of more than 800 candidates who had sent their papers through email, claiming that these candidates were physically prevented from filing nominations at the designated offices.
CPM rubbishes reports of ground alliance with BJP
CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra rubbished reports of an alleged alliance between CPM and BJP at the grassroots level in some districts of the state. “For last two or three days, there has been a campaign that the Left has entered into an understanding with the BJP in Bengal to fight against the TMC. This is a premeditated move which has been done with an intention to malign our image,” Mishra said. “…our fight is against both these parties. Our slogan is ‘TMC hatao Bangla bachao, BJP hatao desh bachao’,” he added.