West Bengal political parties unhappy over poll schedule (Lead)

March 2nd, 2009 - 11:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, March 2 (IANS) Major political parties in West Bengal expressed dissatisfaction over the Lok Sabha poll schedule in the state declared by the Election Commission Monday.
While ruling Left Front major Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said it preferred a one-day election, the opposition alleged that the three-phase routine would help the ruling Left Front cadres cast bogus votes.

“We always wanted single-phase poll in West Bengal. But this three-phase election will only help the communists to win the seats through random rigging,” senior state Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee said.

He said taking advantage of the staggered poll schedule, the CPI-M would move its cadre from one part of the state to the other to cast bogus votes in favour of the Left Front.

West Bengal’s main opposition party Trinamool Congress demanded that polls in southern Bengal be held ahead of north Begnal due to weather conditions.

The Election Commission Monday declared that the Lok Sabha election in northern Bengal will be held April 30 and the polls in south Bengal will take place May 7 and 13.

“We want the south Bengal elections to be held in April and the north Bengal polls in May keeping in view the weather,” All India Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy told a press conference here.

“The dates declared by the poll panel for West Bengal are not actually suitable considering the scorching summer heat in May in south Bengal,” he said.

Trinamool also demanded that the Election Commission take steps to ensure every booth in the state be manned by central paramilitary forces, and ballot boxes, instead of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), be used for voting.

He said voters in south Bengal will face difficulty in exercising their franchise in May. So if the dates can be altered and the polling in south Bengal rescheduled in April, it will be easier for the common people to cast their votes, he added.

“Many Hindi-speaking people, who live in south Bengal region, often migrate to different states (their homeland) in May. If the south Bengal election can be rescheduled in April, instead of May, many electorate would be able to cast their votes in West Bengal,” Roy added.

Senior CPI-M leader and party’s central committee member Shyamal Chakraborty said his party also wanted a single-phase Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal.

“We wanted single-phase polls in West Bengal, but since there was an indication by the CEC that the polls might be held in more than one phase, we were prepared for that,” Chakraborty said.

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