The State Election Commission (SEC) in West Bengal on Sunday announced re-polling in 697 booths across five districts to be held on July 10 after violence marred the panchayat elections in the state on Saturday.
Re-polling will be held in Purulia, Birbhum, Jalpaiguri, Nadia and South 24 Parganas districts of West Bengal, an official statement read.
The statement said, "The West Bengal State Election Commission, in the exercise of the powers conferred on it by sub-section (3) and sub-section (4) of Section 67 of the said Act, hereby fixes 10th day of July, 2023 as the date of taking the fresh poll at 07.00 hours to be continued up to 17.00 hours uninterruptedly till completion and direct the District Panchayat Election Officer to fix the polling station at which poll shall be taken."
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Khagen Murmu called for re-polling in Bengal earlier today, alleging ballot rigging during the panchayat polls in West Bengal. He claimed that presiding officers and election staff were engaged in proxy voting in favour of Trinamool Congress (TMC).
West Bengal BJP state general secretary Jagannath Chattopadhyay also wrote to the SEC demanding repolls.
In a letter, Chattopadhyay wrote, "You will recollect yesterday the BJP WB delegation called on you and asked you to review CCTV/video footage to establish booths which have to be re-polled due to booth, looting, polling officers seen participating/helping in rigging/where BJP candidates agents were forced to leave or removed from polling stations."
It may be noted that a total of 10 people were killed and several injured in violence reported across the state during the Panchayat poll.
The three-tier panchayat elections in 20 out of 30 districts were marked by widespread violence, looting of ballots papers and rigging. The 7 new districts which were included last year include - Sunderban, Ichhemati, Ranaghat, Bishnupur, Jangipur, and Behrampur and one more district will be named in Basirhat.
There were reports of booth capturing, damaging of ballot boxes and assault of presiding officers from several districts such as Murshidabad, Cooch Behar, Malda, South 24 Parganas, North Dinajpur and Nadia.
Earlier on Saturday, West Bengal Pradesh Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the TMC's incoherence with the police administration has unleashed a reign of terror in an unprecedented way.
"The ruling party's incoherence with the police administrations...has unleashed a reign of terror in an unprecedented way, which has taken a toll on 26 people, and hundreds of people who are fatally injured have been admitted to the hospital already. The political and electoral environment in Bengal has been violent...It is a travesty of panchayat elections and virtually it is an example of electoral depredations...," said Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary.
Polling began at 7 am amid tight security in the state in 73,887 seats in rural areas of West Bengal with 5.67 crore people deciding the fate of around 2.06 lakh candidates.