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Wary of Decline in Muslim Votes, Trinamool Congress Asks EC to Hold Panchayat Polls Before Ramzan

This comes after the Calcutta High Court asked the State Election Commission (SEC) to extend the deadline for West Bengal panchayat poll candidates. The HC decision requires the SEC to reschedule panchayat elections that were earlier to be held on May 1, 3 and 5 and could push the poll dates to the Ramzan period.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:April 21, 2018, 7:15 PM IST
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Wary of Decline in Muslim Votes, Trinamool Congress Asks EC to Hold Panchayat Polls Before Ramzan
A file image of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. (Photo: PTI)
Kolkata: Trinamool Congress leaders on Saturday met West Bengal Election Commissioner AK Singh and requested him to conclude the Panchayat Polls before Ramzan, saying Muslims may find it difficult to votes due to fasting.

TMC general secretary Partha Chatterjee and senior leader Subrata Bakshi met the Election Commissioner AK Singh around 2 pm on Saturday to make the request.

This comes after the Calcutta High Court asked the State Election Commission (SEC) to extend the deadline for panchayat poll candidates.

They also appraised him about the extreme heat across the state and how this could cause more problems for voters if the poll process is further delayed, Chatterjee said.

The HC decision requires the SEC to reschedule panchayat elections that were earlier to be held on May 1, 3 and 5 and could push the poll dates to the Ramzan period.

Addressing the media people, Partha Chatterjee, said, “Today, we met the Election Commissioner and shared our issues related to poll. We told him that TMC don’t want Panchayat poll during the Ramzan period.”

“I also told him to consider the weather condition as there could be rains or extreme heat in some parts of Bengal. Therefore, we requested him not to delay the process further and conduct the poll before the Ramzan,” he added.

TMC leaders attended the meeting as a part of all-party meeting called by the Election Commissioner to discuss pool related issues. Leaders from other political parties including CPI (M), Congress, Forward Block, RSP attended the meet separately with the Election Commissioner except the BJP.

There was a confrontation between the BJP leaders led by Mukul Roy and the Kolkata police because they were not allowed to enter the Election Commission office. Police told them that only two representatives from each political parties are allowed and the BJP delegation had five.

However, BJP leader Mukul Roy claimed that there is no such restriction and they have informed Singh over phone and via e-mail that five representatives from BJP will meet him. “Then, he raised no issue but when we reached, we were not allowed to enter the election commission office. Today is a black day in democracy,” Roy said.

“As per Calcutta High Court’s order, the state election commission is bound to meet all the collective stakeholders of the political parties before finalizing the dates of Panchayat poll and last date of filing nomination. Today, we boycotted the meeting and submitted a written complaint to the Registrar of the Calcutta High Court. Before meeting us the election commission cannot finalize the dates,” he added.

When asked to comment on BJP boycotting the EC meeting, Chatterjee said, “It was clearly mentioned that only two representatives from each party will meet the EC. They (BJP) are intentionally trying to delay the poll process.”

CPI (M)’s Robin Deb said, “We requested the EC to ensure safety of candidates so that they could file their nominations. If we face problem in filing the nominations, then again we will approach the court.”

The state government was in favour of early poll before the Ramzan period as this could create problem before the Muslim community in Bengal. Many feel that the new dates of the panchayat poll could be crucial as there are chances that the Muslim vote percentage could decline.

It is likely that the SEC will now announce the fresh polling/filing of nomination dates on Monday.

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| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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