Officials indicate that election commission is not keen on a single-phase election as Bengal’s security apparatus is lacking — there are only 46,000 policemen for about 58,000 booths.(Samir Jana/ HT File Photo)
Officials indicate that election commission is not keen on a single-phase election as Bengal’s security apparatus is lacking — there are only 46,000 policemen for about 58,000 booths.(Samir Jana/ HT File Photo)

No decision yet on Bengal rural election dates as govt, poll panel differ on number of phases

The government wants voting before the month of Ramzan begins tentatively on May 15-16. But there must be a 21-day gap between the last day of nomination — April 23 in this case — and first day of polling.
By Avijit Ghosal | Hindustan Times, Kolkata
UPDATED ON APR 25, 2018 10:00 PM IST

Uncertainty over the new dates for West Bengal panchayat polls seemed to heighten on Wednesday following differences between the state government and the State Election Commission (SEC) over number of phases in which votes will be cast.

The government wants votes to be cast before the month of Ramzan begins tentatively on May 15-16.

But there must be a 21-day gap between the last day of nomination — April 23 in this case — and first day of polling.

However, bureaucrats indicate that the SEC is not keen on a single-phase election as the state’s security apparatus is lacking — there are only 46,000 policemen for about 58,000 booths.

Officials of both the state government and the SEC were reluctant to come on record to talk about their differences.

“It is the domain of the election commission and they will comment on it,” said panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee.

The initial notification that the SEC issued on March 31 mentioned three-phase polling on May 1, 3 and 5.

The last date of submission of nomination papers was April 9. But the extension of filing of nomination to April 23 after court orders necessitated a fresh calculation.

“If there is a two or three-phase election, it can only happen after Eid al-Fitr, which will fall on June 14 or 15 this year,” pointed out a state government official.

On Wednesday, different Muslim organisations under the banner of All Bengal Minority Forum (ABMF) submitted a memorandum to the SEC, demanding completion of polls before Ramzan.

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