Panchayat polls begin in West Bengal


New Delhi, May 14: Voting underway for Panchayat Elections in West Bengal, visuals from a polling booth in Cooch Behar.

The voting for the single-phase panchayat polls began today across West Bengal amid tight security, an official said.

  

"The polling started at 7 in the morning," the official said.


Polling will end at 5 pm. The counting will take place on May 17.


It is the last major polls in the state before the next year's Lok Sabha elections.


With 40 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats located in the districts, political parties are viewing today's event as a warm up match ahead of 2019 general elections.


After a protracted legal battle in the Kolkata high court and the Supreme Court involving the State Election Commission, the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition parties, the three-tier panchayat polls in West Bengal is being held.


The run-up to the panchayat polls was marked by intense campaigning. The ruling Trinamool Congress was engaged in a bitter war of words with the opposition Congress, Left Front and BJP over the violence that erupted during the filing of nominations for the polls.


The opposition had accused the ruling TMC of letting loose a reign of terror during the nomination process. The TMC rubbished the allegations and had said the opposition do not have a mass base and are trying to evade the polls.


The filing of nominations, which was held from April 2 to April 9 and then again on an extended date on April 23, was marked by violence and clashes between the ruling TMC and opposition parties that led to several deaths.

PTI