KOLKATA: After West Bengal administration rejected Centre’s proposal for paramilitary forces to deal with communal strife in parts of south Bengal, the state government proposed Election Commission to hold the upcoming panchayat elections in the state without any central forces stating that its 56,000 state forces would be adequate to conduct the elections.
When asked by the Election Commission about the time of holding the elections, the state government proposed that the elections be held in the first week of May so that it is concluded before holy Islamic month Ramzan and also proposed that the elections be conducted in two or three phases.
Though the previous panchayat election was conducted in July, the state government contended that conduct of elections becomes difficult in July due to monsoon rains.
However, Opposition parties vehemently opposed the proposals for elections in May and without central forces.
“They can’t deal Ram Navami with state police and are claiming to give security in polls with these forces. The state government has no rights to deny central forces’ vigil in the polls,” Left Front Assembly leader Sujan Chakraborty said.
On the other hand, state BJP threatened to go to court if elections are conducted in May. “We will not get time for campaigning if the polls are conducted in the first week of May. We will go to court against this proposal if needed,” state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said.
The upcoming rural polls would be a litmus test to BJP’s actual penetration into the rural heartland of the state and may be an indicator to the bigger battles of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2021 Assembly elections.
The polls would also be a last ditched effort of the Left to prove its existence since gradual decline from 2011 and recent setback in Tripura.