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Election Commission Defers Civic Polls In Bengal By 3 Weeks

Polls In Bengal By 3 Weeks

Ashok Chatterjee

Kolkata (The Hawk): Elections to the four municipal corporations have been postponed for three weeks.
The State Election Commission, through a notification announced that the new polling date will be February 12, instead of January 22.
The commission issued the notice after a letter from the state government to this effect. However, the commission is still not decided on the counting date. The commission letter mentioned: “In compliance with the solemn order dated 13.01.2022 of the Honorable Division bench , High Court, Calcutta…on consideration of the prevalent Covid pandemic situation…”
There has also been no mention of new campaign dates as yet. However, the earlier mentioned restrictions on publicity will remain. Campaigning can be done following all earlier prescribed rules. The secretary of the commission, N Sandilya also said that the campaign should be stopped 72 hours ago.
Nabanna informed the State Election Commission through a letter the government has no objection if the commission wishes to postpone the election. After receiving the letter on Saturday, the Election Commission postponed the polls till mid of February. Bidhannagar, Siliguri, Asansol and Chandannagar municipal corporations were scheduled to go to polls on January 22. There were public interest litigations in court objecting to this election in the worsening COVID situation. The Calcutta High Court, on Friday, had asked the State Election Commission to reconsider postponing the polling date by 4-6 weeks. The court said it was of the view keeping the welfare of the public in mind at a time when the COVID cases are on the rise.
The districts under which these civic bodies fall are North 24-Parganas, Darjeeling, West Burdwan and Hooghly. The commission sent a letter on Friday seeking the state's position on the High Court's verdict. In response, the state voted Saturday to back the vote. In the letter, they said that the state is working hard to deal with the Corona situation. Now if the commission postpones the vote for a few days, they have no objection. It is worth mentioning that the state in its previous appearances in court had opposed postponing the civic polls.A few days back, Trinamool national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee had said at a media interaction that in the current COVID situation, any kind of religious and political gathering should be stopped, adding that it was his ‘personal opinion’.
Meanwhile, the Left Front in its letter to the State Election Commission, on Saturday, requested that the counting of votes, polled on February 12 and polling at a later date in February in the second phase, should be done on a single day.
The Left Front letter said: “The Commission has informed the high court that it intends to hold a second phase of polls on February 27 for other civic bodies. We request you to count the votes of the first and second phase together.” The letter also mentioned a previous instance of 2015 when votes of KMC election on April 18 and votes of 91 other municipalities on April 25 were counted together on April 28.