Dweller-Crisis In Alipurduar Appoints 1 In 2 Panchayats

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Alipurduar: Residents of an Alipurduar booth will cast an extra vote in the rural polls because their village does not have the minimum number of dwellers required for a panchayat.

People in the Totopara-Ballalguri panchayat of Madarihat block will have four votes, instead of the usual three for residents elsewhere – one for each for the panchayat, panchayat samiti and zilla parishad.

A large number of Totopara residents are Totos, a primitive tribe from which four candidates are in the fray. Trinamool and the BJP have fielded two each.

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“Under the Panchayat Election Act of 2003, there has to be minimum five members in a panchayat. Also, for every 900 voters, there must be one panchayat member. This means there should be minimum 4,500 voters. But in this panchayat, the number of voters is less,” said D.P. Karnam, the Alipurduar DM.

Sources said there were 3,808 voters. The lack of numbers is the reason why voters of the largest booth in the area – one with 1,312 voters – will cast four votes, electing two panchayat members.

Sources said the extra vote had also been cast in earlier elections. In the 2013 panchayat polls, Trinamool candidates had won all five seats. Among the winners was one from the Toto tribe.

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