West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose on Saturday asserted that violence will not be tolerated in the ensuing panchayat elections in the state.
His assertion came after State Election Commissioner Rajiva Sinha called on him to explain the commission's stand on demands for extending the date of filing nominations for the three-tier panchayat polls and to explain steps taken to contain incidents of violence.
Bose, in a statement, said, "Ever since the announcement of the panchayat elections, political parties have been flooding the governor with requests of intervention to ensure peace and harmony during the election. They came out with a number of suggestions expressing their apprehension about the likelihood of 'muscle raj' in the coming elections in the state."
"The governor assured them that the elections will be held in a free and fair manner. He also reiterated that violence will be the first casualty in the ensuing election. He said that the ensuing panchayat election will prove the victory of democracy and the defeat of mobocracy," the statement added.
On his meeting with Sinha, he said, "The Election Commission will leave no stone unturned in conducting the election without violence and intimidation. All the stakeholders will join together in warding off unhealthy trends during election campaign and will resist any attempt of violence and musclemanship in the conduct of the election." Officials said the governor sought from Sinha details of allegations of violence marring the process of filing nominations and asked whether the SEC had considered seeking central forces to manage the polling process.
The meeting comes against the backdrop of BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar calling on Bose at Raj Bhavan earlier in the day with complaints about the nomination filing process, as well as state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury writing to him on the same issue.
On Friday, the State Election Commission said that it may consider extending the last date of filing nominations for the Bengal panchayat elections slated to be held on July 8.
This followed a Calcutta High Court observation in response to petitions by opposition politicians for extending the date, that the court is "of the view that the time limit fixed in the notification is inadequate".
SEC Sinha had told PTI, "We are going to review the situation and may contemplate extending the date." Separately, officials said following meetings with district magistrates and police superintendents, the Commission decided that special focus would be given to five districts -- North and South 24 Parganas, Birbhum, Jalpaiguri, and Purba Medinipur -- as these are seen as "sensitive".
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