SEC & WB Government Clash To Finalise Panchayat Dates

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Kolkata: After two phase of meeting Election Commission and West Bengal Government is still elusive on the last and final Panchayat election dates. Fresh panchayat poll dates could not be finalised on Tuesday as consensus between the state election commission and the Mamata Banerjee government remained elusive despite another round of talks.

Poll panel officials held talks with Saurav Das, officer on special duty in the panchayat department, on Tuesday afternoon, but there was no agreement on the number of phases or the poll dates during the 45-minute meeting, the sources said.

“The government wants the first, if not the only, date to be May 14. That will be the 21st day from the last date of filing nominations on Monday. The commission, which does not want further legal complications and seeks 21 clear days in between, wants the first date to be May 15,” said a source.

Disagreements cropped on the number of phases, too. The government wants single-day polls as the Ramazan begins in mid-May, said an official.

The commission – which had originally notified three-phased polls on May 1, 3 and 5 before Calcutta High Court stalled the process on Opposition complaints of intimidation by Trinamool during nominations – does not want to reduce the rounds as it believes such a move may be challenged in court. “The commission, wary of possible legal challenges, would like three phases starting May 15,” said the official.

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