Left Front demands change in voting hours as election dates coincide with the month of Ramzan

The State Election Commission on Wednesday issued the final notification for a five-phase rural elections in 17 districts of the State starting from July 11 as per the Supreme Court order.

 The court on June 28 had directed that the polls be held, with deployment of forces from the State and Central governments, on July 11, 15, 19, 22 and 25.

 The Panchayat department issued a notification for the polls on Tuesday after the Supreme Court rejected the State government plea to reschedule the election dates on the ground that it was coinciding with the month of Ramzan.

 Senior officials of the election panel said the Central forces required for conducting the polls would start arriving from July 8.

 On the issue of timing of voting on the five dates, Election Commissioner Mira Pande said it would be decided by the State government.

 A delegation of the Left Front that met Ms. Pande earlier during the day had demanded that polling be held from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. instead of between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. considering monsoon conditions and the month of Ramzan.

 Though the Commission did not specify the dates of counting of votes, its officials said the process of elections would be completed by August 3.

 With the election panel issuing the final notification, a number of administrative meetings are lined up for the next few days.

 The officials of the State Election Commission will meet Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee on Thursday and district magistrates of nine districts in south Bengal, where elections are scheduled in the first three phases, on Friday.

The election panel has called a meeting of all major political parties contesting the polls on Saturday.