Home India Politics Stalemate over Bengal rural polls continues

Stalemate over Bengal rural polls continues


Kolkata : The stalemate between the West Bengal government and the State Election Commission over the rural polls continued despite yet another round of meetings Monday.

While the two sides have concurred on the schedule of the three-phase election for 17 districts to be held on July 2, 6 and 9, there was no consensus on the district-wise grouping for each phase.

The new schedule was notified by the government last week following a direction by the Calcutta High Court to conduct and conclude the polls within July 15.

The polls will be held in 17 districts of the state excluding Kolkata and Darjeeling involving approximately 57,000 booths.

The Mamata Banerjee government though, has refused to budge from its stand of holding the polls in nine districts on the first day, four on the second and another four on the final day. The SEC on the other hand has been seeking a reduction in the number of districts for the first day for security reasons.

Monday’s meeting saw presence of senior officials including the home secretary and the director general of the police with a view to allay the SEC’s security concerns.

Admitting both the parties were yet to reach on a consensus, SEC chief Mira Pande after the meeting said: “We will go by the instructions of court.”

Commission secretary Tapas Roy though said that the government has agreed to its proposal of holding the final phase of the election on July 9.

The notification, issued by the state government had given the date for the final phase as July 10 with the counting on July 13.

With nine districts going to polls in the first phase July 2 involving about 36,000 booths, the Commission has been contending that it could compromise security as a majority of the booths are highly sensitive or sensitive.

The nine districts where the state government is keen to have the polls July 2 span across south Bengal and include the region affected by Maoist activity.

State Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee however, said there were no complications regarding the polls.

“There are no complications as far as we (the State government) are concerned,” Mukherjee told media persons.