Poll panel using our money to fight case against us: Bengal

Kolkata, April 7 (IANS) Keeping up the attack on the West Bengal State Election Commission, the Mamata Banerjee government Sunday charged it with using the government’s funds to fight a case against the regime.

Nearly a week after the commission moved court seeking rejection of the panchayat election date earlier notified by the government, state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said poor people would be the ultimate sufferers if the case dragged on.

“They (state election commission) are at an advantage. Because they are fighting the case with our money. If they employ a good lawyer, he will argue the case for 20 days at our expenses. Then the matter will go to the division bench. Ultimately, poor people are the sufferers,” Mukherjee told media persons here.

The minister claimed that the state government had been “very flexible” on the issue. “We have been very flexible. We have bent to the maximum.”

A question mark hangs over holding the panchayat polls in the state, with the showdown between the state government and the state election commission on the scheduling of the dates and deployment of central paramilitary forces reaching the court.

On March 22, the government had announced two-phased polls to be held April 26 and April 30, under the supervision of the state police personnel.

This ran counter to the commission’s suggestion of a three-stage election, with deployment of central paramilitary troopers.

The state election commission finally moved the Calcutta High Court April 1.

In a sudden twist during the court hearing April 4, the government came up with a new notification proposing two-phase polls May 5 and May 8.

The latest notification was brought before the Calcutta High Court by the state’s Advocate General Bimal Chatterjee.

Justice Biswanath Samaddar said the parties could settle their differences in the weekend out of court and the court would be “more than happy” if free and fair polls can be held.

He said if the commission and the government failed to resolve the dispute, the court could hear the matter Tuesday.

But in the fresh notification, that was announced by the advocate general after hour-long argument in court, the government stuck to its stand to hold the polls by deploying the state police or, if required, those from the neighbouring states. The commission has sought 800 companies of central paramilitary troopers.

The government also urged the state election commission to issue subsequent orders for the polls.

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