Didi rejects plea to review dates

Acting tough into the panchayat poll preparations, the West Bengal state election commission (WBSEC) is going to issue its notification for the rural elections this week, after the Mamata Banerjee government rejected the WBSEC’s plea to review its poll schedule on Monday. Sticking to its phase-wise distribution of 17 districts in 9-4-4 format it conveyed its stand in a letter to the rural poll body.
The government’s lone acceptance is the date of the last phase from July 10 to 9. The WBSEC earlier proposed a phase-wise distribution to the state government as 6-5-6. But with its latest move, the government only pushed the ball in the WBSEC’s court on the poll preparations.
Asked about the possibility of the poll-notification by the panel, WBSEC commissioner Mira Pande said in the evening, “Why not? Whatever will happen, the court’s order will be followed. Let us bring out our notification first. It will be issued most probably this week.”
On the phase-wise distribution of districts, the WBSEC commissioner, however, added, “No final decision has been taken so far.”
During the day, panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee in Siliguri said, “There is no problem from our side. We are always flexible. I hope that good sense will prevail on the election commission.”
Significantly, the government’s letter reached the poll panel’s office within hours after the second round meeting for one-and-half-hour between Ms Pande and home secretary Basudeb Banerjee, director general of police Naparajit Mukherjee and additional director general of police(law and order) Bani Brata Basu in the afternoon.
Law and order situation and number of hyper sensitive and sensitive booths and their locations came up in the discussion, sources revealed. The government team tried to push the format of 9-4-4 phase-wise distribution but had to allow the poll panel to decide on the number of hyper sensitive and sensitive booths, according to sources.
After a marathon discussion, the three government officials, tight-lipped, left for the Writers’ Buildings. In the evening, the poll panel scrutinised the letter and discussed the step of issuing the poll notification to counter the government’s firm stand, sources disclosed.

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