On a day that State Election Commission wrote to the Government seeking clarifications on its unilateral announcement of the rural polls schedule, its Commissioner Meera Pandey asserted here on Monday that there is sufficient time to conduct the elections in the State.
“There is enough time [to hold the elections],” Ms. Pandey said when asked whether sending the letter will cause a delay in the schedule of the polls.
She explained that the current terms of the rural bodies expire at different times starting from June this year. Secretary of the Commission Tapas Ray said the terms of elected panchayats expire five years after the first meeting of the elected body is held.
Meanwhile, State Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee refused to comment on the letter from the Commission but defended the Government’s decision to hold elections in two phases – a key issue that has led to confrontation between the Government and the Commission.
The Commission has also taken heed of allegations made by the Congress that the decision to hold the elections in three districts of Malda, Murshidabad and Uttar Dinajpur in a separate phase is politically motivated as the party has a significant presence in these areas. “Who says the three districts are Congress bastions?” asked Mr. Mukherjee, adding that even Job Charnock, traditionally regarded as the founder of the city, had divided it for administrative purposes.
Asked what the State Government will do if the Governor M. K. Narayanan, who was approached by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party during the day, intervenes in the matter, Mr. Mukherjee said the Government will decide once such a development occurs.