Parties ignored clean candidates in Bengal rural polls: Survey

Kolkata, July 16 (IANS) A survey by an NGO has found that political parties in West Bengal "failed to nominate clean candidates" in the ongoing five-phase panchayat polls.

The survey was conducted on the candidates for the zilla parishad (district councils - the highest of the three-tier panchayat bodies system) in South 24-Parganas and Birbhum districts where the rural polls are scheduled to take place July 19 and 22, respectively.

The study by West Bengal Election Watch showed that out of 353 candidates contesting for zilla parishad in South 24-Parganas, 17 have criminal cases pending against them for offences including murder, attempt to murder, abduction, theft and torture.

Of this, seven belong to the Trinamool Congress (TMC), four to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), three represent Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist (SUCI-C), and one each from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP).

In Birbhum, out of the 152 candidates, four TMC candidates and one each of CPI-M and Forward Bloc are facing criminal cases for offences including murder, attempt to murder, abduction and theft.

"This information makes it evident that political parties have ignored the demands of the civil society to nominate clean candidates and have taken no action against the tainted party workers," Biplab Halim, state co-ordinator of West Bengal Election Watch, said here.

Altogether 4.4 crore eligible voters will elect 58,865 representatives out of 1.77 lakh candidates in the three-tier panchayat bodies of the state - which is considered a model for the rural development system in the country - in the polls slated July 11, 15, 19, 22 and 25.

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