EC Announces West Bengal Polls to Be in 8 Phases, Mamata Objects
The EC has declared that the model code of conduct must be followed during polls.
The West Bengal Assembly election will be held from 27 March to 29 April in eight phases, following which the results will be declared on 2 May. This makes it the longest ever polling in the state so far, seemingly based on “assessments of law and order”, according to the Election Commission of India (EC)‘s Sunil Arora on Friday, 26 February.
This decision has been met with opposition from CM Mamata Banerjee who claimed this was done at the behest of PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
At a press conference in Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan, Arora declared the full schedule for the 294-member West Bengal Assembly, whose term ends on 30 May. The party needs to secure 148 seats to attain majority.
Arora also announced the dates for the Assembly elections in three other states and one Union territory. These are Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry, where elections are due by May this year.
The schedule is as follows:
- No of phases: 8
- Dates: 27 March, 1 April, 6 April, 10 April, 17 April, 22 April, 26 April, 29 April
EC has appointed two special observers for the West Bengal polls according to Arora, who added that a third observer can be sent when needed, as per PTI.
What Mamata Banerjee Said
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee questioned the ECI’s move of keeping eight phases and stated, "Somewhere a question arises. Bihar has 240 seats. It had elections in 3 phases. Assam will have it in three phases. Tamil Nadu has 234 seats, one day election. Kerala, one day election. Bengal has 294 seats, why are elections here in eight phases? To make gains for whom?”
“Expected rational behaviour from the EC. We hold EC to highest regards. If an important body like the EC does not give justice to the state and the people, where will people go? What I came to know from BJP party sources is that whatever EC has decided, is as per BJP requirement. In West Bengal they cant even trust one district?” stated Banerjee.
“I welcome EC’s decision, but tell me why districts have been split into half? There should be continuous elections so that from force mobilisation, to election machinery, everything is easier. But what have they done?” questioned Banerjee.
“There are dividing a district into part 1, part 2. In South 24 Paraganas, which is our stronghold, they are holding election is three phases. Has all this been done on the instructions of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah? So that they can plan their travel schedules? Finish Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala in one day, and play a 23-day match here. I don’t mind. I’m giving you my word, I’ll beat you hollow. Khela Hobe (the game is on).”CM Mamata Banerjee
BJP Cites Security Reasons
BJP’s Bengal head, Kailash Vijayvargiya said, "I expect the Election Commission to be peaceful. For this, you should also appoint additional officers with additional forces so that people can vote boldly,” quoted ANI.
Polling is first to be held in West Bengal and Assam. The EC declared that the model code of conduct must be followed.
The elections in Assam is to be held in three phases, starting from 27 March. Results will be declared on 2 May.
The schedule for the 126 seats in Assam is as follows:
- No of phases: 3
- Dates: 27 March, 1 April, 6 April
Bengal Polls Last Year
In the 2016, April-May elections, CM Mamata Banerjee’s party Trinamool Congress was re-elected to lead West Bengal in the Vidhan Sabha after winning 211 seats.
The elections were held in six phases in 2016 from 4 April to 5 May, and results were declared on 19 May.
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