Panchayat polls on May 1, 3, 5… results on May 8
Kolkata: The upcoming Panchayat polls in Bengal would be held in three phases in the first week of May, the state Election Commission announced on Saturday. "The Panchayat polls would be held in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5. The counting would take place on May 8," state Election Commissioner A K Singh told the reporters here.
A total of 58,467 polling stations will be set up in 20 districts for the over 5.08 crore voters, he said. According to the state Election Commissioner, 12 districts will go for polls in the first phase on May 1. They are Nadia, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, East Burdwan, West Burdwan, Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram, East Midnapore and West Midnapore.
In the second phase on May 3, voting will be held in two districts — Birbhum and Murshidabad. The districts of North Bengal will go for polling in the last phase on May 5. The areas include Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda. Singh, however, refused to comment on the opposition parties' demand for deployment of paramilitary forces during the elections.
It is learnt that the state EC has written to the state government seeking their opinion about the strength of the police force that they want to deploy for conducting the polls peacefully. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a meeting with state Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee and senior officials of the state Secretariat at Nabanna on Saturday.
On being asked about the Opposition's demand for the Central forces during the polls, Banerjee said: "We want the elections to be held peacefully. It is the subject of the Election Commission and they will decide. It is not proper to interfere with their job and we never do it." There is a total of 48,650 Gram Panchayat seats, 9,217 Panchayat Samity seats and 825 Zilla Parishad seats.
"There will be an observer for every block and an observer in charge of every district that goes to polls. More than 2.92 lakh personnel will be involved in the election process," a senior SEC official said. The repoll for the first phase if any will be held on May 3, repoll for the second phase will be on May 5 and for the third phase on May 7 respectively.
Talking about the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) that will be into effect from Saturday in the entire state, Singh said no minister or minister-rank official can use pilot cars (with or without beacon unless there are security threats assessed by appropriate police officers) or summon any election-related official.
Just before the announcement of poll dates, the state government has reshuffled 16 police officers of the districts in the rank of DSP, SDPO and ACP that includes officers of Asansol-Durgapur Commissionerate, Bankura, Nadia, West Midnapore, Basirhat police district, Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur, Nadia, Birbhum, Jhargram and South Dinajpur.
The notable reshuffle includes — Vivek Kumar Verma, SDPO Kharagpur who has been transferred to DSP Crime, Cooch Behar and has been replaced by Kuntal Banerjee, SDPO Dinhata. Kartick Chandra Bhattacharya, DSP Crime, Cooch Behar has been posted as ACP Asansol-Durgapur Police Commissionerate.