SERIOUS differences persisted at a meeting today between the state election commission (SEC) and the state government over fixing of dates,identification of sensitive booths and phase-wise grouping of districts for the panchayat elections .
Both sides,however,seem to have agreed on the timeframe set by the Calcutta High Court Division Bench for holding of the three-tier polls.
According to sources in the state government,the notification for the election is likely to declare the polling dates as July 2,6,and 10.
The Calcutta High Court in its May 14 direction had asked the state government to announce the poll dates in consultation with the SEC.
The meeting was held for the first time at the SECs office today at the initiative of both the commission and the state government,two days after the High Court direction to complete the poll process by July 15. The meeting was attended by West Bengal Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra,Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee and State Election Commissioner Meera Pandey
We suggested certain dates and the representatives of the state government also placed some dates for the panchayat election to be held in three phases according to the High Court order. We have prepared a list of phasewise grouping of the districts and the government,too,presented a list, said a senior commission official .
He added that preliminary discussions were also held on deployment of forces for the polls. Apparently,the meeting was not effective with the SEC official claiming that the commission was always open to discussion.
According to sources,the government representatives have stated that the five districts of North Bengal along with Murshidabad and Birbhum should go to the polls in the first phase while the three districts of Jungle Mahal along with Howrah and Nadia go to the polls in the second phase. The five districts of south Bengal should have elections in the third phase.
The commission is said to have,however,disagreed with the arrangement.
There were some differences of opinion on deployment of force,too.
The government representatives are said to have placed a list of 78 observers .
Meanwhile,the state government has also started reworking on the categorisation of sensitive booths; a list of the same was drawn up by the state election commission also.
According to sources,the government has received a new list of sensitive booths from 12 districts. However,the commission reportedly remained firm on its list.
The commission will act according to the Panchayat Act, said the senior official of SEC when asked about the step taken by the commission after the government issues a notification.
The commission has called for an all-party meeting tomorrow to discuss the details of the poll. It will also hold meetings with the DMs and SPs of all the districts on May 18 and May 19.