KOLKATA: The Election Commission on Wednesday turned down the request of Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O’Brien, who urged the panel to club the last three phases of Bengal Assembly elections.
Citing the restrictions that the Commission has imposed -- ranging from extending the silence period to banning campaigns for a certain period -- the poll panel made it clear that the election schedule will remain unchanged.
Explaining why the Commission should club the last three phases, O’Brien said in his letter that already 52 days of campaigning has been availed to the political parties or candidates.
In its reply, the poll panel said, "The total duration of election period has been reduced to 66 days which is 11 days less than the last occasion in 2016. The Commission has invoked its power under Articles 324 and prohibited the campaigning between 7 pm and 10 am to discourage the public gathering in view of the Covid pandemic and has extended the silence period to 72 hours before the end of polling in each phase."
Rejecting O’Brien’s request, the commission said a poll date has to be after 14 days of the last day scheduled for withdrawal of nomination, and hence, clubbing the last three phases is not possible.
While phase six of the West Bengal polls is scheduled on April 22, the seventh and eighth phases are on April 26 and 29.