Opposition welcomes the stand taken by the Commission

The State Election Commission has stuck to its earlier decision to hold the upcoming rural polls in West Bengal in three phases despite the State Government writing to it earlier this week seeking a two-phase elections.

In a letter to the State Government on Thursday, the Commission said the polls should be held on three days and sought deployment of 800 companies of paramilitary forces for the same.

The State Government, which was not particularly keen on deployment of Central forces, had in its last communication to the Commission said “additional forces may be mobilised”.

Opposition parties have welcomed the stand taken by the Commission.

Mohd Salim, Central Committee member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said the “stand-off between the State Government and the State Election Commission is unfortunate” and it is the duty of the Government to resolve the issue and come to an agreement with the Commission.

“The essence of panchayat elections is decentralisation of power but what we see now is absolute centralisation of power in the hands of the Chief Minister. This is why the situation has not been resolved so far and people of the State do not know what is going to happen,” Mr Salim said.

State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said the stand of the Commission is justified as it is not possible “physically” to hold the rural elections in about 49,000 polling booths in two phases.

“The State Government does not have the adequate number of police forces to guard 49,000 polling booths so the demand of the Election Commission for Central paramilitary forces is nothing unusual,” he said.