Standoff between Mamata government, state poll panel on

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 29, 2013 17:10 hrs

Kolkata, March 29 (IANS) There was no signs of a thaw in the standoff between the Mamata Banerjee regime and the West Bengal state election commission, putting a big question mark on the panchayat polls schedule announced by the government.

The ruling party sharpened its attack on the commission while the opposition accused the government of attempts to create a constitutional crisis so that the polls are not held on time.

State Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee, who called on Governor M.K. Narayanan and Chief Minister Banerjee during the day, admitted that it was difficult to hold the maiden phase of the elections April 26 as scheduled.

"We will take a final decision on Monday," he said.

Earlier in the day, Mukherjee had said a fresh notification on the rural polls would be issued soon.

"We find it very difficult to consider and agree to suggestions given by the commission," he said, responding to the latest missive from the panel Thursday stressing the need for deployment of central paramilitary troopers.

The state election commission has sought 800 companies of central paramilitary troopers, a suggestion that has not found favour with the Banerjee government.

However, Mukehrjee seemed to have softened this tone on the issue, saying there was no guarantee that the state will get 800 companies of paramilitary forces if it asked for.

Meanwhile, Trinamool general secretary Mukul Roy alleged that letters penned by the panel were being drafted in the office of a rival political party.

Roy also accused the state poll panel of delaying the elections.

Alleging a collusion between the commission and the opposition, he said "The support for the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) and the Congress has sharply declined. There is a conspiracy to delay the polls so as to defer the certain defeat of these opposition parties."

Hinting that the erstwhile LF government had extended the tenure of the state election commission from three to six years with ulterior motives, Roy said: "The necessary amendment was passed only in 2010, when an imminent political change in the state was quite perceptible."

Roy also ruled out a role for the governor in the ongoing deadlock.

The Congress hit out against the state government, saying it was "trying to create a constitutional crisis".

"It intentionally went against constitutional provisions and unilaterally announced the poll schedule to precipitate a crisis so that the polls are not held in time," said party state unit president Pradip Bhattacharya.

Left Front chairman Biman Bose said there was a cloud over the Panchayat polls schedule and questioned the intention of the government to hold the rural polls.

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