West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday gave her nod to two-phase panchayat elections on April 26 and 30, going against the state election commission’s opinion to conduct it in three phases across April-May.
What’s more, the state government said the rural polls would be held under the watch of “armed police force”, but did not name any specific security force. The election watchdog has repeatedly recommended holding the polls under the surveillance of central paramilitary forces.
State election commissioner Mira Pandey declined to comment on the poll dates announced by state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee after talks with the CM. “We have not received any letter on Friday,” said Pandey.
Experts said the dispute was headed for court. The law empowers the state government to announce the dates only after consultation with the election commission. If the poll watchdog disagrees with the dates, it can ask the government to review the decision. There is, however, a grey area surrounding who prevails in the event of a disagreement.
The CPI(M), Congress and the BJP slammed the government over the poll dates.