Kolkata: The highly-anticipated rural polls will be held tomorrow in West Bengal after the state saw several instances of pre-poll violence and a bitter war of words between the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and opposition parties. Polling will be held between 7 am and 5 pm and the results will be declared on May 17.
The Supreme Court this week expressed disappointment on the candidates from the ruling party being "elected unopposed" in the state rural polls for 34 per cent of the seats. "Elections are to be held in absolute fairness," the top court said referring to the "uncontested seats".
The top court stayed the Calcutta High Court order and asked the poll body not to accept electronic nominations. Opponents claimed intending candidates could not file nominations because of the Trinamool's terror.
As the state government was embroiled in a legal battle over the date for the rural polls, Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee insisted several times she wanted the rural polls to be held before Ramdan. She also said the mercury would shoot up in coming days.
However, the state polls were delayed after the filing of nominations due to pre-poll violence. Amid the clashes, the filing of nominations was held from April 2 to April 9 and then again on an extended date on April 23. Ms Banerjee said that 14 Trinamool supporters have been killed in the violence ahead of the state rural polls, while BJP's Jai Prakash Majumdar claimed the death toll of their supporters is 52.
In the latest incident, a Trinamool lawmaker, Arabul Islam, was arrested on Friday for the alleged murder of a supporter of an independent candidate.
Around 1,500 security personnel from Assam, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh are in the state to reinforce security arrangements for the West Bengal panchayat polls, news agency PTI reported.
They will aid around 46,000 personnel of the state police and 12,000 of the Kolkata Police, while the state government would use close to 2,000 security personnel from the departments of excise, prison and forests in manning the booths, an SEC official was quoted as saying by PTI.
(With inputs from PTI)