Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday criticised the state election commission (SEC) for buckling under pressure from the Congress-NCP-led government and scheduling the zilla parishad polls counting ahead of the civic polls. The SEC refuted his allegation, saying the decision was taken on the basis of availability of voting machines and practical issues related to the counting process.
"The SEC's decision to hold counting for zilla parishad polls earlier will directly benefit the Congress and the NCP as one result influences the other," Thackeray said from Thane, where he had gone to conduct interviews of 410 MNS members aspiring to be candidates.
Thackeray wants the counting for the zilla parishad and municipal corporation elections done at the same time. He is worried that the results of the zilla parishad polls, to be held on February 7, will affect the results of the civic polls, scheduled on February 16.
State election commissioner Neela Satyanarayan said her decision is not influenced by political parties. "I have not declared that the counting for corporation polls will be advanced or that the zilla parishad polls will be pushed forward. The decision will depend on the number of electronic machines we have," she said.
On January 7, the Shiv Sena, the BJP and the MNS had requested the SEC to schedule the counting for both polls at the same time.
Thackeray refused to buy Satyanarayan's explanation and pointed out that the problem of less voting machines had not cropped up during the 2009 Assembly polls.