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West Bengal panchayat elections: Polling on May 1, 3, 5; results on May 8

No clarity yet on whether central police forces will be deployed to ensure the integrity of the election.

West Bengal panchayat elections: Polling on May 1, 3, 5; results on May 8

KOLKATA: The local body elections in West Bengal will be held in three phases, the State Election Commissioner AK Singh announced on Saturday. The three phases have been scheduled over a span of five days.

"The Panchayat polls would be held in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5. The counting would be take place on May 8," Singh announced, according to news agency PTI. He said nominations would be accepted from April 2 till April 9.

Voting will take place in close to 58,500 polling stations across 20 of the 23 districts of the state. Over 5.08 crore electors are eligible to cast their votes in the election.

Singh did not offer clarity on whether he would request for central police forces to maintain control during the election. This has been a key demand of opposition parties in the state.

The panchayat elections promise to be a heated affair. The ruling Trinamool Congress will look to consolidate its grip on power, while the Left will be fighting hard to expand its presence in a state that was once its fortress. The BJP too is making efforts to expand its footprint in West Bengal, where it has historically been present in name only.

The heated political climate can be expected to add to tensions and possible violence in some parts of the state, which have for long been prone to violence clashes between the cadre of the main parties.

However, for the moment, political parties seem more focussed on complaining that the elections have been scheduled at such short notice, or that they have been set during the examinations season or that there has been no announcement yet on the deployment of central police forces to ensure the integrity of the elections.

(With inputs from PTI)