Panchayat elections’ timing may change: Bengal poll panel

Kolkata, June 26 (IANS) The West Bengal State Election Commission Wednesday conceded the timing of the panchayat polls may change, but asserted that the elections will be held.

“The panchayat election will take place, only the timing may change,” State Election Commissioner Mira Pande told mediapersons here.

Pande said the SEC only wanted to ensure adequate security personnel were available.

“Otherwise, how can we provide security to the electorate?” she asked.

Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said as the polling process had already started, he saw no reason why the elections would not be held.

“The polling process has started. Voting on postal ballots is on. The Supreme Court has also not given any stay. I see no reason for the elections not being held,” Mukherjee said.

However, with the legal tussle between the government and the state poll panel reaching the Supreme Court, the minister smelt a conspiracy.

“It’s a conspiracy. Both the Congress and the CPI-M are involved as they do not want the elections,” he said.

The state government has been locked in a legal tussle with the State Election Commission on the issue of ensuring adequate security personnel for the polls, slated to be held July 2, 6 and 9.

The SEC Wednesday moved the Supreme Court, alleging the state government was dragging its feet over providing security forces despite being directed by the Calcutta High Court. The Supreme Cout has issued notice to the central and West Bengal governments and posted the matter for hearing June 28.

The West Bengal government Tuesday suggested a four-phase polls instead of three stages as notified earlier, but the state poll panel turned down the proposal in the Calcutta High Court.

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