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West Bengal Panchayat Elections: 3-phase polling begins on May 1, counting on May 8; Oppn fumes over early announcement

The West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday announced the schedule of the Panchayat Election.

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West Bengal Panchayat Elections: 3-phase polling begins on May 1, counting on May 8; Oppn fumes over early announcement
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The West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday announced the schedule of the Panchayat Election.

The three-phase polling will be conducted on May 1, 3 and 5.

Addressing media in Kolkata, State Election Commissioner Amarendra Kumar Singh said that election to 48,656 Gram Panchayats, 9217 Panchayat Samities would take place on May 1, 3 and 5 while the results would be out on May 8, 2018.

The election will take place in all the 20 districts except Darjeeling and Kurseong. In the first phase election will take place in Nadia, Bankura, East and West Burdwan, Purulia, Jhargram, East and West Midnapore, Howrah, North and South 24 PArganas and Hooghly. 

In the second phase only two districts – Murshidabad and Birbhhum will go on polls and in the final phase polls will be conducted in Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, North and South Dinajpore and Malda.

“Repoll if any will be conducted on May 3 for May 1, May 5 for May 3 and May 7 for May 5. The notification would be issued on April 2 and model code of conduct is effective after the end of this press conference,” Singh said.

Filing for nomination would be done from April 2 to 9.

About 5.08 crore people will be exercising their franchise in the Panchayat election.

However, the opposition is fuming over the early announcement. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said that the dates had been fixed to deter opposition leaders to campaign for election. “In 1999, the TMC had moved court as Panchayat elections had been scheduled during the board exams and she has done it herself this time. We are looking at possibilities to move court,” he said.

CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty said that it was an insult to Opposition leaders. “Two days ago there was an all-party meeting where nothing about the date was mentioned and now suddenly the dates are announced. It is an insult,” he said.

Interestingly, Singh avoided the question whether Central forces would be used to conduct the election.

Immediately after the announcement, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee conducted a meeting with state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee and other officials to take stock of the position of ongoing projects. After the meeting it was announced through a state notification that May 1 being Labour Day, state government employees who would be busy with election duty would get a compensatory off on the next day.

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