Kolkata: The West Bengal government on Thursday announced fresh panchayat election dates on May five and eight, but the State Election Commission told the Calcutta High Court that it would not conduct the polls without deployment of central paramilitary forces.
Advocate General Bimal Chatterjee told the court of Justice Biswanath Somadder, hearing the case by SEC seeking cancellation of the election, that a letter was addressed to the state election commissioner stating that May five and May eight were the new election dates.
He sought to assure the court and the SEC that all arrangements would be made for holding free, fair and peaceful elections and said that the commission should accept its assurance to ensure that the elections were held in time.
The Advocate General insisted that the state would make security arrangements from within the state and if necessary, bring forces from neighbouring states and assured all assistance to the SEC.
But SEC`s counsel Samaraditya Pal submitted that it was not possible for the commission to hold the elections without deployment of central forces because of apprehension of violence.
Pal, quoting a letter by SEC to the state government, submitted that the commission had repeatedly said that the elections be held in three phases with deployment of 800 companies of central paramilitary forces on consideration of situation prevailing in the districts.
He said the state government had sought elections in two phases, the reasons for which were not explained.
The phasing of the elections and choice of districts in each phase was the prerogative of the commission, he submitted and the state had no authority to announce the phases and districts for such phases.