West Bengal Panchayat Poll On May 14, Mamata Banerjee Welcomes New Date 'Before Ramzan'

The elections were earlier slated to be held in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5.

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West Bengal Panchayat Poll On May 14, Mamata Banerjee Welcomes New Date 'Before Ramzan'

West Bengal will have single-phase panchayat elections on May 14 (File Photo)


Kolkata:  Panchayat polls in West Bengal will be held on May 14, the State Election Commission said in an informal media briefing in Kolkata this evening, and re-polls on May 16, if needed.

Counting is expected to be held on May 17, but an official confirmation of the date is awaited.

The panchayat polls were earlier scheduled in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5. But the Opposition parties went to court complaining of violence during the filing of nomination papers and the SEC was ordered to allow an additional day for nomination filing and reschedule poll dates.

Opposition parties are questioning how the SEC can hold a one-phase poll in almost 58,500 booths when Bengal has only 58,000 policemen. "Not even one policeman per booth." said a Left supporter. On Facebook, a comment read, "Let's have counting on 14th and polls on 16th." 

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee welcomed the new poll date.

"We are happy about the poll date. We want democratic, peaceful polls. I appeal to all parties, please don't resort to fake posters, fake campaigns or use pictures of violence in Bangladesh to pass them of violence in Bengal," she said.

The reference was to allegations by the Trinamool that the BJP's panchayat poll manifesto released earlier this week used photographs of clashes in Bangladesh in the inside cover of the booklet.

The Trinamool has complained to the SEC about it and said a police complaint has been filed.

Ms Banerjee also said "strict watch will be kept on borders," referring to police statements that "outsiders" from Jharkhand entered Bengal and created trouble during nomination filing.

Trinamool's Birbhum chief Anubrata Mondal also said outsiders from Jharkhand were behind Monday's clash at Suri in which "Trinamool worker" Dildar Khan was shot dead.

Sources said the SEC wanted a two-phase poll but came under state pressure to hold the polls before Ramzan began on May 16. The chief minister had earlier said polls during Ramzan would be very inconvenient for the Muslim community "who are 30 per cent of the state's population."


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