Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi on Friday ruled out advancement of Assembly elections in West Bengal-due in June next-and scotched any speculation in this regard as “premature and ill-thought“.
Asked about the possibility of holding the elections ahead of schedule, Mr. Quraishi said as per the Constitutional provisions they were due only on June 11 next.
“The Constitution gives us the power on holding Assembly elections six months before the due date which is December 11, this year. Therefore, it is only after December 12 that we can decide about the best date for holding the election,” he told reporters here.
Mr. Quraishi dismissed as “premature and ill-thought” talk of early election in the Left-ruled State as the EC does not yet have any power to decide on that before December 12.
Key UPA ally Trinamool Congress headed by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee is raring to have a go at the polls after its splendid showing in the recent civic polls which was considered as “semi-final” before the final.
Mr. Quraishi said all efforts will be made to keep the electoral rolls in West Bengal flawless for the polls.
“Updation of the electoral rolls is an ongoing process. We have been working for this for the last two to three months. We had sent senior IAS-level officers as observers to the State on two visits... they will make another visit,” he said.
On the reported 56 lakh new voters in the State, he said eligible voters will be included and names of non-eligible ones will be struck off as “our aim is to produce a healthy electoral roll”.
Regretting that political parties were often “painted in the black”, he said “the role of the political parties over the past 60 years should not be undermined. Cynical comments about political parties do not help democracy. Without them there can be no democracy.”
Mr. Quraishi also praised the country’s bureaucracy, saying they efficiently manage the world’s largest electoral exercise.