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WB panchayat polls begin

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], May 13 :
The much-awaited West Bengal panchayat polls began at 7am on Monday.

The voting will continue till 5 p.m. in 621 zilla parishads, 6157 panchayat samitis, and 31,827 gram panchayats. The counting will take place on May 17.

Voters queue up outside a polling booth in Sirakole village in South 24 Parganas district.
Considering the history of violence in the state panchayat polls, elaborate security arrangements have been made to maintain law and order during the polling.

Around 46000 personnel of West Bengal Police, 12000 of Kolkata Police were getting support from around 1500 security personnel from other states.

It is notable that there was widespread violence between the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and opposition parties during the nomination filing process that claimed lives of many people.
While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed that 14 TMC supporters were killed in the violence, the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that its 52 supporters were killed.

The run-up to the Panchayat Polls also saw a legal battle that reached up to the Supreme Court.
On May 10, the apex court set aside Calcutta High Court order that asked West Bengal Election Commission (WBEC) to accept nominations for Panchayat polls through e-mail.

The WBEC had challenged the order of the Calcutta High Court, which on May 8 had directed the WBEC to accept nominations of Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M), which had reportedly filed around 800 nominations through email within the stipulated time before 3 p.m. on April 23.
The nomination filing process had started from 2 to 9 April and then again on an extended date on April 23.

The Supreme Court had also expressed disappointment over the "unopposed election" of the ruling TMC for 34 per cent seats.

Of the 48,650 seats in 3358 gram panchayats, 16814 were uncontested; of the 9217 seats in 341 panchayat samitis, 3059 were uncontested; and in the 20 zilla parishads, 203 of the 825 seats were uncontested.

The battle between TMC, BJP, Congress, and the Left Front will also give a hint that which party would enjoy hegemony over others in 2019 general elections.

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