Whatsapp has become one of the mediums through which candidates have filed their nominations for the West Bengal panchayat elections. The Calcutta High Court was informed on Tuesday that nine candidates have used Whatsapp to file their nominations for the West Bengal panchayat elections which are scheduled to take place in three phases on May 1, May 3 and May 5.
West Bengal State Election Commission (WBSEC) Secretary Nilanjan Shandilya told the High Court that the poll panel has accepted all the nominations filed through WhatsApp. The single judge bench of Justice Subrata Talukdar had earlier on Tuesday taken up a petition filed by Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist Red Star leader Sharmishtha Chowdhury in which she had claimed that several candidates failed to reach Bhangar in South 24 Parganas to file their nominations due to poor law and order situation in the area.
The court directed the WBSEC to accept all the nominations papers sent through WhatsApp. The court had on Tuesday directed the WBSEC to make arrangements for the filing of the nominations of 11 candidates of the Polerhat II gram panchayat at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district after they claimed that they were being prevented from reaching the office designated for the purpose by armed hooligans.
Nine of the 11 candidates filed their nominations using WhatsApp, petitioner Chowdhury told the High Court. All the nominations will be scrutinised on April 25 and the last date for withdrawal of candidature is April 28. Counting of votes will take place on May 8 and the results will be declared on the same date.
The candidates had sent photos of their filled up nomination papers to the authorities concerned through WhatsApp as they were manhandled and their papers were snatched at the Alipore Survey Building where they had been directed to go by the commission to file their nominations, she claimed. She also claimed that as the fees for the nominations, the filing of which ended on Monday, could not be paid as the original papers were snatched and that the nominations could be treated as invalid during scrutiny on this ground.
Justice Talukdar then directed the SEC secretary to treat the nominations of the nine candidates as valid and said that no fuzziness would be accepted by the court over technicalities. Nilanjan Shandilya gave an undertaking before the court that the nominations would be treated as valid and the candidates' names would appear in the ballot papers.
Justice Talukdar had directed the commission to file a compliance report on Tuesday in respect of the court's direction. The court had said that the commission will lie in contempt if its order is not executed. The SEC had extended the nomination process by a day for Monday at the direction of Justice Talukdar.
There has been pre-poll violence in several areas of the state and several candidates belong to the opposition parties have accused the Trinamool Congress government of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of intimidating its rivals.