Representatives of BJP, Congress, Left Front and TMC participated in an all-party meeting convened by State Election Commissioner Susanta Ranjan Upadhyaya after the ruling party proposed to extend the poll timings by two hours from the current 7 am to 3 pm.
The proposal of time extension had been opposed by all the other parties. “The TMC wants an extra two hours so that they can rig the polls for another two hours,” CPM leader Rabin Deb.
Congress leader Debabrata Basu said, “Once there has been a notification by the state election commission, what is the point of calling a meeting to change it?”
- West Bengal bye-elections: Sizeable chunk of Left’s vote share may have gone to BJP, say experts
- Day after Manju Basu refuses Noapara bypoll ticket: Red faced, BJP names new candidate
- West Bengal: BJP left red-faced as Noapara bypoll candidate says she is with TMC
- West Bengal: TMC wrests Sabang from Congress, BJP vote share surges
- Sabang bypoll: TMC’s Gita Rani Bhuniya wins by a margin of 64,192 votes
- State Election Commission writes to govt: Can’t extend poll hours
The meeting also touched upon BJP’s demand for the deplyment of central forces when the municipal electiosn are held.
BJP had said that there should be Central forces at least a week ahead of the polls. “The state government will not ask for Central forces and even if it does, their deployment will not be done and they would be made to sit idle,” Bajoria said.
Post the meeting, which lasted for nearly two hours, TMC leader Partha Chatterjee said his party had requested for the extension of time for the convenience of the voters.
Asked about the three municipalities where the TMC had won uncontested because the candidates of the Opposition parties were allegedly forced to withdraw their nomination at gunpoint, he said, “There had been no such thing. They had withdrawn because they realised they would lose.”
Upadhyaya too, said he had no knowledge of any such incident. “There had been no formal complaint in writing to us regarding the issue,” he said.
Upadhyaya said that only Deb had raised the point and that they would look into it. “There has been no change in decision so far regarding the poll timings though,” he said.
Also present at the meeting were TMC leader Sovan Chatterjee, Forward Bloc leader Hafiz Alam Sairani and CPI leader Prabir Deb.