The State Election Commission (SEC) has finally announced the final dates for the Panchayat Elections in West Bengal. Voting will take place in a single day on May 14th, and the result will be out on May 17th. The announcement of revised dates were delayed because the SEC were finalising the security arrangements in the over 58,000 polling booths and also deciding on the issue of whether to conduct the election during the month of Ramzan. The representatives of various Muslim organisations on Wednesday met the SEC officials and urged the poll panel not to hold the panchayat election during the month of Ramzan, which is scheduled to start from May 16-17.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee welcomed the new poll date. She said,”We are happy about the poll date. We want peaceful and democratic polls. I appeal to all parties, please don’t resort to fake campaigns, fake posters or use pictures of violence in Bangladesh to pass them of violence in Bengal,”. 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.
According to the West Bengal Panchayat Act, 2003, there has to be a gap of at least 21 days between the last date for filing of nominations and the date of polling. According to this rule, the election cannot be held before 14 May. The panchayat polls were earlier scheduled to be held on 1, 3 and 5 May. However, following a Calcutta High Court order, the SEC had announced 23 April as the extended date for nomination-filing for the three-tier rural election.