ECI may declare poll dates within a week: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Election Commission of India may declare poll dates for the crucial state assembly elections in the next seven days.
“Election dates are likely to be announced in the next seven to eight days. We don’t have much time,” Banerjee said on Wednesday.
Elections to the 294-seat West Bengal legislative assembly are expected to be held in March – April.
She was addressing a rally at Alipurduar district in north Bengal.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief, while reiterating at least twice that there is less than a week before the ECI declares the poll dates, said that her government had taken up a series of schemes and development projects for north Bengal and more work would be done after the elections are over.
“We have kept all our promises. Whatever little remains would be taken up after the elections. We don’t have time. Elections are likely to be announced in the next five days,” she said, while urging people to vote for the ruling TMC.
The full bench of the poll panel had visited West Bengal for two days in the third week of January to take stock of the preparedness, and law and order situation. Earlier, deputy election commissioner Sudeep Jain had visited the state twice to take stock of the situation.
The poll panel had held meetings with representatives of political parties, central and state regulatory agencies, senior IAS and IPS officers and the state’s top bureaucrats including the state’s chief secretary, home secretary and director general of police.
On Tuesday, the Chief Electoral Officer of West Bengal held a video conference with district magistrates. The districts have been asked to submit details of polling stations and their requirements to make the booths and polling stations ready for the polling day. The report has to be submitted by February 10.
“The poll panel has already asked for regular reports of law and order situation in the state, including status of non-bailable arrest warrants and seizure of illegal arms and ammunitions, from the administration. A stern warning has also been sent out to officials that the ECI won’t tolerate any dereliction of duty,” said a senior official of the poll panel.
At least three senior officials in the Chief Electoral Officer’s (CEO) office in poll-bound West Bengal were transferred by the ECI earlier this week. The list includes an additional-CEO, a joint-CEO and a deputy-CEO.