The pending bye-elections in seven assembly constituencies of West Bengal could be held before the Durga Puja festival in October and the state administration is fully prepared to conduct it at that time, officials of the state CEO's office informed the EC during a virtual meeting on Wednesday, sources said. The seven seats are lying vacant due to deaths of candidates during the eight-phase assembly election held earlier this year or resignation of MLAs. The ruling Trinamool Congress is keen on the by-polls as party supremo Mamata Banerjee, who lost the assembly election from Nandigram, will have to get elected within six months to continue as the CM. In that case, the by-polls must be conducted by November 5.
The festive season will continue from October 10 to October 24 and it is impossible to conduct the election at that time. So, the state has asked the Commission to conduct polls before the starting of the festive season. "We have more than one month at hand. If the Commission makes the notification (for holding election in the seven seats) now, it is possible to conduct the polls before the Durga Puja, a senior state government official said. Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra on Wednesday held a virtual meeting with state Chief Secretary HK Diwedi. Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain, who is in charge of the West Bengal assembly polls, and senior officials of the Chief Electoral Officer's (CEO) office attended the meeting.
The meeting was held to understand the situation and the preparedness of the state to hold bye-election to the seven assembly constituencies. The EC officials enquired about the Covid-19 situation and flood situation in West Bengal, the official said. "The EC has been given the dates of the Durga puja and the other festivities scheduled in October. They have been told that holding the election before the festivities would be the best idea," the source said. The first-level checking of the EVMs & VVPATs for holding the by-election to the state Legislative Assembly is complete.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress state secretary Kunal Ghosh said, "The bye-elections should be held immediately. The BJP is not willing to hold polls. But they should remember that such negative politics won't yield any result as people have already voted for the TMC in the assembly election." BJP state spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said the state government has not withdrawn the restrictions imposed due to the prevailing Covid situation but is concerned about holding polls. The by-polls are due in the constituencies of Bhabanipur, Khardah, Gosaba, Shantipur, Jangipur, Samserganj and Dinhata. Mamata Banerjee is expected to file nomination from Bhabanipur in Kolkata, which was vacated by winning TMC candidate Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, days after the results were declared.