Burdwan (WB): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the Opposition for conspiring to prevent her government from conducting Panchayat polls on time and vowed that elections will take place according to the schedule.

"Panchayat polls will be held at the appropriate time. Work for Panchayats and 100 days' will not be hampered", she said at a party rally here without elaborating.

"We have been trying to hold Panchayat elections in the state since last September. Who went to court? Those who will lose. The CPI (M), Congress and the BJP went to court," Banerjee said.

Banerjee said her government was well aware of the laws and will go by that. "But we won't cave in before conspiracies of CPI (M) and Congress."

Without referring to the Calcutta High Court order, she said state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee had already said whatever the state government had to say.

Earlier, Mukherjee said that West Bengal government will appeal against the Calcutta High Court order upholding the primacy of the State Election Commission and asking it to provide names of 400 observers for Panchayat polls by Saturday.

"We will appeal against the order before a division bench as early as possible because it is unrealistic and will undermine the federal structure and the state's minimum powers," Mukherjee told reporters regarding the HC order.

The Calcutta High Court today upheld the primacy of the State Election Commission and directed that the Panchayat elections be held in three phases with central police forces.

Left demands early Panchayat polls in WB

The CPI (M) demanded early Panchayat elections in West Bengal after the Calcutta High Court upheld the primacy of the State Election Commission (SEC) over the state government on the issue.

"Now that the High Court has upheld the SEC's stand that the Panchayat elections should be held in three phases with central armed police forces, the polls should be held soon," party Politburo member Biman Basu told reporters here.

The panchayat elections are scheduled to be held by June when the tenure of the rural bodies end.

Basu, who is here to attend the party's Central Committee meeting, said if the polls are not held soon, then these crucial grass-root level rural bodies would be deprived of about Rs 8,000 crore worth of central funds. The Centre releases these funds only to elected Panchayats.

"Even after two years of being in power, they (Trinamool Congress) are yet to learn regarding how to govern," he said.

In a setback to Mamata Banerjee government, the Calcutta High Court upheld the primacy of the SEC and directed that the rural polls be held in three phases as sought by the Commission.

It also rejected the state government's notification for holding the elections in two phases. The state government has decided to appeal against the order.

Basu said, "We have been saying from the beginning that SEC is responsible for holding elections - whether on a single day or in phases. The state government can only suggest when the polls should be held."


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