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West Bengal Panchayat polls: EC, Mamata government at loggerheads


Priyanka Gupta, Sougata Mukhopadhyay , CNN-IBN
Apr 02, 2013 at 09:31am IST

Kolkata: The Election Commission and the West Bengal government are at loggerheads over the dates of the coming Panchayat elections in the state. The Calcutta High Court will hear the Election Commission's petition to quash the state government's notification. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wants elections in two phases as opposed to three.

The state Election Commission on Monday moved the Calcutta High Court challenging the government's decision to notify dates for the Panchayat elections. This came after Mamata hardened her stand and issued poll dates on April 26 and April 30.

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Besides the election dates, while Mamata wants state police deployed during the elections, the commission insists on central paramilitary forces. Mamata claims Bengal cannot afford Rs 400 crore required for deploying central forces. Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy calling the state election commissioner a CPM appointee has not helped matters either, but the government remains unfazed.

The opposition is up in arms. The BJP has moved court and the Left is asking the Governor to intervene. "It's a premeditated conspiracy to delay polls. Subroto Mukherjee was asked to raise technical confusion and Mukul Roy was asked to saving the image of the party in the public domain," CPI(M) leader Biman Bose said.

There is a looming uncertainty over when the Panchayat elections will now be held. The opposition says Mamata doesn't want elections in rural bodies where the Left still dominates. Political observers also believe that the uncertainty over the Lok Sabha elections could also be a factor.

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