After locking horns with the State Election Commission (SEC) over the dates and manner in which the panchayat polls would be conducted, the Mamata Banerjee government on Wednesday seemed to soften its stand on the issue.
State panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee, who till Monday had been talking tough, even going to the extent of saying the government might unilaterally declare the poll dates, told reporters on Wednesday: "We don't have any demand. All we want is a free, fair and peaceful election following democratic norms."
Sources in the panchayat department said that following a discussion with the advocate-general, the chief minister and panchayat minister have been advised not to go into a confrontation with the poll panel as the commission is well within its right to seek judicial redressal.
On March 7, the SEC had rejected the state government's proposal of holding the panchayat polls in two phases. It wants the election to be held in three phases under the surveillance of central forces.
Subrata Mukheree had said on Monday that the government would ask the SEC to honour the state's request, failing which the government would declare the poll dates unilaterally.