The state government might have relented on the distribution of districts in the two phases, but April 26 might yet need to be postponed although for a completely different reason.
A senior officer of the State Election Commission explained that there has to be a minimum gap of 21 days and a maximum of 35 days from the last date of filing nomination. This gap is required as the panchayat polls are conducted with ballot papers. Had it been EVMs the period would have been much less.
But starting Wednesday less than 30 days have remained for the polls as the state government has already announced that the first phase polls would be held on April 26. The standoff however still continues and is yet to be resolved.
“We are aware of this issue. This aspect would also be discussed in the next meeting of SEC,” said Tapas Ray, SEC secretary.
Asked whether the polls could be held on the dates announced by the state government, Ray added, “I can’t say. It depends on several factors. The commission will take the call.”
State panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee however said: “We have already published the notification. Now if the State Election Commission doesn’t abide by the law and asks us for a review thereby killing time, the fault is not ours.”
Elaborating on the need for central forces, a senior officer of the SEC said there would be around 57,000 booths in panchayat elections with an additional 150 auxiliary booths.