The Election Commission announced the dates for polls in five states - Assam, Kerela, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and West Bengal this week.
Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Kerela will have a single phase election on April 13. Assam is set for a two phase election, with voting on April 4 and April 11.
Perhaps owing to a lack of confidence in the ability of the state government to maintain order, the Election Commission has decided to go with a six-phase election for Bengal. The Election Commission chief said that this move was made after considering 'ground realities'.
Which seemed to be his way of saying Bengal is practically lawless.
Various parts of Bengal will go to the poll booth on April 18, 23, and 27 and May 3, 7 and 10. The results for all the elections will be declared on May 13.
Tamil parties have criticised the date, claiming there was a lack of time to campaign effectively. Presumably they need time to stock up on colour TVs, rice, cloth materials and other similar consumer products whose free distribution among voters has become a common sight in Tamil Nadu.
The rest of the states have not raised any particular objections. In a telling sign, Bengal remained silent over the dates. They seem to have acknowledged 'ground realities' as well.
The elections are no simple state elections. They will turn out to be the surest sign of which way in the wind is blowing among voters.
Image: Trinamool Congress workers arranging the party flags for the upcoming assembly polls in Birbhum district of West Bengal on Friday, March 4, 2011. (Photographs copyright PTI)
Full Coverage | Steps taken to ensure free, fair and transparent polls
Text: Vinayak Hegde
For the week of February 25 to March 5