West Bengal Panchayat polls: Govt-Commission standoff continues
Kolkata: The standoff between the West Bengal government and the State Election Commission over Panchayat Election remained unresolved as state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee questioned the logic of deployment of 800 companies of central forces sought by the SEC.
"Panchayat Election was never held under the supervision of central forces in any state and there is no guarantee that 800 companies of central forces will be available even if it is sought. We don't agree if anybody raises question about law and order in the state," Mukherjee told reporters today in an obvious reference to the SEC.
The minister, who met Governor MK Narayanan at the Raj Bhavan here over the issue, said he was happy with his 45-minute talk, stressing that his government was keen on holding the panchayat election and that was why it had "compromised on may subjects" (with the Commission).
"The state government wanted a single-phase poll, but now it has agreed to a two-phase election. It also wanted the election to be held in winter. The state government also sanctioned Rs 100 crore for the rural poll. We always wanted a free, fair and peaceful election in a democratic way," he observed.
Asked if the first phase election could be held on April 26 as notified by the state government, he replied, "If the SEC issues notification immediately, it can still be held on that date. But if it takes more time, it will not be possible."
He said that the state government would have to issue a fresh notification since the poll schedule in the districts had been changed.
The state government had earlier issued notification for a two-phase Panchayat Election on April 26 and 30.
Later, the schedule was changed to bring Malda, Murshidabad, North and South Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts in the April 30 phase and the other 11 districts in the April 26 leg.
Malda, Murshidabad and North Dinajpur were earlier scheduled to go to polls on April 30.