Third phase of Bengal panchayat poll Friday

Kolkata, July 18 (IANS) In the shadow of violence, the Bengal panchayat elections come close to Kolkata Friday, with three neighbouring districts going to the hustings to elect about 13,000 representatives to the village councils, the third tier of India's electoral democracy.

About 99 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in close to 12, 656 booths in the three districts of North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Howrah in round three of the polls.

Over, 37,500 candidates are in the fray, with the main contest likely to be between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist led Left Front.

While three people were killed in violence in the second phase of the elections July 15, clashes have been reported from various parts of the three districts.

While a Trinamool Congress supporter was killed Wednesday, the opposition CPI-M has claimed that its supporters were not allowed to file nominations in parts of the three districts.

CPI-M leaders Thursday accused the Trinamool of letting loose a reign of terror, to scare away LF candidates, workers and voters.

Six people were arrested during the day after bombs were hurled at the car of an election observer and an police officer sustained injuries in Amdanga of North 24 Parganas district.

The CPI-M has announced that its cadres would put up road blocks and stage sit-in demonstrations in case of violence or if the ruling party used unethical means

Governor M.K. Narayanan expressed the hope that there will be "less violence".

He said the government was trying to "make more active use of the paramilitary forces" instead of just "keeping them in reserve".

Besides 50,000 security personnel, comprising 15,000 central paratroopers and the rest from the state armed police force, the central government has dispatched 4500 additional reinforcements.


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