Bengal poll panel told to hold talks on rural polls

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Kolkata: The Calcutta high court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, seeking permission to file nominations for the upcoming panchayat elections through electronic messaging, a day after justice Subrata Talukdar ruled that nominations filed by nine candidates through WhatsApp were to be treated as valid. The court had said that the commission will lie in contempt if its order is not executed.

In last few weeks of filing, eight people were killed including a BJP candidate, a BJP candidate's relative, a TMC anchal pradhan, a TMC Panchayat level leader, a Congress worker and a close relative of a TMC candidate. The court disposed off the BJP's appeal to further extend the nomination process over the alleged violence by the state's ruling Trinamool Congress on the extended day for filing of nomination papers on Monday. The court had already expressed its views on the panchayat election process and there would be no interference from the court over this petition, the court stated. The TMC has, on the other hand, blamed the Opposition parties for vitiating peace in some parts of the state in the run-up to the local body elections.

A single-judge Calcutta High Court bench on Wednesday declined a CPM request to allow online acceptance of nominations by some of its candidates "resisted by the ruling party goons", after which the party chose to appeal.

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"We sent our nominations through WhatsApp to the block development officer just to keep a record", she told News18. The Court has also directed the SEC to submit its report to the Court by April 30. It said the poll panel should ensure safety and security arrangements for the elections.

The SEC has issued a fresh notification announcing 23 April as the extended date for filing of nominations for the three-tier panchayat elections in the state. They will meet again on Wednesday.

The last date of submission of nomination papers was April 9. Panchayat polls were earlier scheduled on May 1, May 2 and May 3 with counting to take place on May 8.

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