Kolkata, Jul 5 (IANS): A circular from West Bengal Chief Secretary, H.K. Dwivedi has ignited possibilities of earlier polls to the three-tier panchayat system in the state, originally scheduled for the middle of 2023, and being considered by political circles as litmus test for all parties before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
In the said circular, issued late on Monday, he has directed all the state government departments concerned to complete their pending projects relating to rural development, specially on the rural road network, rural water supply, and rural housing and sanitation within the next six months.
In the circular, the Chief Secretary has specially asked the state Panchayat Department to direct the three tiers of the panchayat system, namely Zilla Parishads, Panchayat Samitis and Village Panchayats, to take more proactive role and cooperate with the state government departments concerned to complete these pending projects within the deadline of the six months.
He also directed the block development officers to make regular field visits and monitor the progress of work.
As per records the current terms of the three tiers of the panchayats are scheduled to end by the end of May 2023, which means that the fresh elections will be conducted in June.
Recently, Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, at a district administrative review meeting directed the different departments to complete the pending projects as fast as possible since dates of the panchayat elections can be announced any time. Within a week of her announcement, came the circular from the Chief Secretary.
Although state Panchayat Minister, Pulak Ray was not available for his comments, a senior member of the state cabinet told IANS, on strict condition of anonymity that the plans are there to complete the panchayat election process by April 2023 so that the ruling party can henceforth fully concentrate for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
"If you note the circular from the Chief Secretary, the focus is only on the rural development projects, which gives clear indications of early polls," the cabinet member said.
The results of the last three-tier panchayat elections in the state came as a surprise for many, as the BJP, then for the first time in its history, came up as the principal opposition party in the state, overtaking over Left Front.
The BJP carried forward its success in the panchayat polls in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, bagging 18 out of 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.