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West Bengal EC moves court over panchayat polls

The West Bengal Election Commission moved  the Calcutta High Court on Monday, seeking cancellation of dates announced by the state government for the upcoming panchayat polls in the state. The state government too has decided to contest the state election Commission legally.

Th state government – after several meetings between the panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee and the chief minister Mamata Banerjee – announced their decision to contest the State Election Commission. ‘We are in a strong position to fight it out’, said Mukherjee on Monday.

The Mamata Banerjee government had announced that the panchayat polls will be held in the state in two phases on 26 and 30 April, but the poll panel wants a three-phase election.

The Election Commission also wants Central paramilitary forces to be deployed during panchayat polls, but the state government has said no to it. The matter is likely to be heard by the court either on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The ruling Trinamool Congress and the state poll panel, which conducts the elections to local bodies like the panchayats and the civic bodies, have been battling it out over the panchayat polls for a while.

While the commission recommended a three-phase voting and deployment of central paramilitary forces, the state government wanted a two-phase poll by pressing into service only the state police personnel. The party has even accused state Election Commissioner Meera Pandey of being ‘biased’ and asked the poll panel ‘not to cross its limits’.

The Opposition Congress and the Left Front have demanded the conduct of the polls in at least three stages with the deployment of central forces. From Tuesday, the Left parties will carry out sit in demonstrations after 1 pm in various pockets of the city in protest against the state government’s stand on the civic polls.

The districts which are to go to polls on 26 April are: Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, South Dinajpur, Nadia, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Purulia, Howrah, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Bankura, Birbhum, Burdwan and Hooghly.
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