2,857 seats declared unopposed: State Election Commission

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Kolkata, Apr 23 (UNI) At least 2,857 of the total 51,000 candidates in the three-tier Panchayat election in West Bengal are going to be declared unopposed, State Election Commission Secretary S N Roychowdhury today said.

''We have deployed 220 observers in block levels and secretary rank observers in 17 districts to conduct free and fair elections.

The Commission also urged the state goverment to provide two armed security personnel in each polling station but no response has yet been received in this regard,'' Mr Roychowdhury told newspersons here.

He said the political parties had been asked to provide a list of candidates and police protection had been assured for those who were not being allowed to file their nominations.

''We had consulted the political parties who had complained about not being allowed to file their nominations but none of the parties have made any specific complaints in this regard,'' he added.

He said all the district authorites had been instructed to be alert and take immediate steps if any complaints were received.

He said the commission will announce some polling booths as high-sensitive and sensitive in the border areas and special arrangements will be made in the areas.

Barring a few minor incidents, the situation was peaceful so far and the security forces were alert, Mr Roychowdhury added.

Several Opposition candidates in Khanakul of Arambagh sub-division had withdrawn their nominations and senior officers held meetings with them. However, no complaints had been received from them of withdrawing their nominations due to threats, he claimed.

The Panchayat Election's code of conduct will be maintained as per Parliament and Assembly elections and the state government or the political parties would not be allowed to announce any new grants or packages. However, land acquisition for industrialisation could be continued, Mr Roychowdhury said, replying to a query.

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