The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Most no-contests in CPM bastions

Calcutta, April 23: Burdwan and Hooghly districts, both CPM bailiwicks, have returned the maximum number of candidates elected unopposed before the May 11 panchayat elections, state election commissioner Ajoy Sinha said.

According to the figures released by the state election commission, 4,475 candidates in 13 of the 17 districts romped home without a contest. Hooghly and Burdwan accounted for 1,662 and 1,440 such candidates, followed by Bankura with 817 candidates. Reports on four more districts are expected tomorrow.

Sinha could not immediately give the details of the political affiliations of the unopposed winners.

However, Opposition leaders were quick to attribute the high number of uncontested seats to the ruling party’s attempts to prevent rival candidates from filing nominations and making several nominees withdraw their papers forcibly.

Denying allegations of intimidation and “terror tactic”, Left Front leaders argued that Opposition parties like the Trinamul Congress, the BJP and the Congress were not able to field candidates in many seats owing to organisational weakness.

In Purulia, district panchayat and rural development officer N.C. Samanta said of the 2,067 gram panchayat seats, 384 were uncontested. CPM candidates were successful in 37 seats, and in one in Joypur, one Forward Bloc candidate was declared elected unopposed.

Three CPM candidates have gone through to the panchayat samity without a contest. However, all 132 zilla parishad seats in the district will be contested.

Reiterating that there would be no change in the election schedule, the state election commissioner said the district magistrates had told him after a meeting yesterday that there was normality everywhere.

Sinha added that this time, 157 officers of the rank of deputy secretary, joint secretary or special secretary would be deployed as observers, of whom 152 would be positioned in the districts.

Three officers will be stationed in the SEC’s office at Rawdon Square and two others will be stationed in north Bengal.

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