Our Correspondent ● Kolkata: The opposition parties in West Bengal have urged chief election commissioner (CEC), Nasim Zaidi, to conduct assembly elections in the state in five to seven phases.
The full bench of the Election Commission (EC), led by Zaidi, today held a series of meetings with all political parties, senior government officials and district administration representatives before initiating measures for the assembly polls due next year.
"We have requested the CEC to ensure that the elections are free and fair and all necessary steps should be taken to ensure that people can vote without any fear or intimidation. We have not specified any phases as it is too early," CPI(M) state secretariat member Rabin Deb said after the meeting. Its ally Forward Bloc has demanded elections in six phases.
The Congress delegation led by senior leader Manas Bhunia too requested the EC to ensure deployment of enough central forces ahead of the polls. "We want elections in at least five phases," he said.
The BJP delegation demanded elections in seven phases. “We told the EC that a central government official must be present in every booth. We want the Bihar model of polling arrangements in Bengal,” said BJP MLA Shameek Bhattacharya.
The ruling Trinamool Congress delegation, led by state parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee, said they have urged the commission to ensure that all legal voters are enlisted in the voter list that will be released on 5 January.
"West Bengal is the most tolerant state where communal harmony is beyond question,” he said. State urban development affairs minister Firhad Hakim, who accompanied Chatterjee, said that the time is not yet ripe to talk about multi-phase elections.