WB govt defends unilateral announcement of panchayat polls
Kolkata: Defending West Bengal government's unilateral announcement of panchayat polls schedule, Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee on Saturday said it was done as per rules and Election Commission should accept it, while the Opposition spoke of examining legal options against the "cowardly" action.
"The state government can announce poll dates as per rules," Mukherjee told reporters here while replying to a query.
Asked if the State Election Commission would accept the two phase-- April 26 and 30 -- poll dates, he replied, "This is the rule. They (SEC) should accept it. We will conduct the elections together."
The SEC had earlier suggested a three-phase poll under the supervision of central forces.
On Congress questioning the justification of holding polls in its strongholds of North Dinajpur, Malda and Murshidabad districts on April 30 and others on April 26, Mukherjee, a senior TMC leader said, "There is no narrow politics behind it.
"Polls were scheduled the way it was required to be done to maintain law and order," he said.
Criticising the decision to hold elections separately in Congress strongholds, WBPCC President Pradip Bhattacharya said, "It is a unilateral and political decision and a cowardly attack."
"They know if there is free and fair elections, they cannot win. That is why, they chose to depend on a section of the police and musclemen," he alleged.
Questioning why the state government preferred two-phase election, he said, "We will talk to the Commission and Governor and will also examine legal options."
The BJP also said it the announcement was contrary to law.
"BJP is consulting legal experts for a future course of action as it believes that fixing dates and holding the panchayat poll is the sole responsibility of the SEC as per Constitution," state BJP president Rahul Sinha said.