SC reschedules Bengal panchayat polls, makes it five phase

New Delhi, June 28 (IANS) Upholding the primacy of the West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC), the Supreme Court Friday Friday directed it to conduct the panchayat polls in the state in five phases beginning July 11.

Hearing a SEC petition seeking adequate security forces for the polls, a bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and Ranjan Gogoi directed the election to be held July 11, 15, 19, 22 and 25.

The apex court also directed the Mamata Banerjee state government to provide 35,000 security personnel for each phase of the election with the central government providing the rest of the security forces.

“The court today (Friday) rescheduled the entire panchayat polls and directed it be held in five phases beginning July 11. It has directed the state government to provide 35,000 security forces for each of the phase while the centre will provide the balance security required,” SEC counsel Samaraditya Pal said.

The Banerjee government following a bitter legal battle with the SEC over deployment of central security forces had notified the polls to held on July 2, 6 and 9. But its failure to assure adequate security forces, made the SEC approach the Calcutta High Court and later the apex court.

State government counsel and Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee however, claimed the verdict has foiled the central government’s bid to disrupt the polls.

“We don’t have a problem with the five phase polls. The central government has been very uncompromising and the verdict has foiled its bid to disrupt the polls,” Banerjee told the media after the hearing.

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