Third phase of Bengal panchayat polls underway

May 18th, 2008 - 10:22 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Kolkata, May 18 (IANS) The third and final phase of West Bengal’s panchayat polls began Sunday morning across seven districts. The districts where the polls are being held are Birbhum, Jalpaiguri, Malda, Murshidabad, South Dinajpur, North Dinajpur and Cooch Behar.

Besides, re-polling will be conducted at 15 booths at Basanti in South 24 Parganas following reports of rigging during Wednesday’s election.

“We received complaints of rigging at 15 booths at Basanti. The frequent political clashes on Wednesday also hampered the conduct of polls. So we decided to go for re-polling in these booths,” said state election commission assistant secretary R.N. Mondal.

This third phase of polls is significant as it includes Malda and Murshidabad - the only two zila parishads in West Bengal run by the Congress party.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had visited Malda and Murshidabad April 28 to campaign for her party.

Five of the six Congress MPs elected from West Bengal, including Adhir Chowdhury, Mannan Hussain and Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury, are from these two districts.

Also, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was elected from Jangipur constituency in Murshidabad.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is expected to have a tough fight with Congress at North Dinajpur - the constituency of Information and Broadcasting Minister and state Congress president Priyaranjan Das Munshi.

Competition for seats has always been intense between the Left Front constituents CPI-M and Forward Bloc at Cooch Behar and CPI-M and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) at South Dinajpur.

The first two phases of the panchayat polls in 17 out of 18 West Bengal districts were held May 11 and May 14.

Counting of votes is scheduled for May 21.

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