West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday raised questions on the Election Commission’s decision to hold Assembly elections in the state in eight phases, PTI reported.
“I have information from my sources that the poll dates are similar to the ones BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] wanted,” she alleged at a press conference in Kolkata. “Have the dates been announced as per the suggestions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah?”
Banerjee pointed out that the poll body has decided to hold elections in constituencies of the same district in separate phases, which she claimed was done to disadvantage her party, ANI reported. “South 24 Parganas is our stronghold, voting there will be held in three different phases,” she said. “Has this been done as per Modi and Shah’s convenience?”
Accusing the Centre of misusing its powers, the West Bengal chief minister said that the election schedule would lead to “misuse of money”, ANI reported.
“Centre can’t misuse their powers for a state election...If they do, it will be a big blunder,” Banerjee warned. “We are common people, we will fight our battle. [I] request [the] Election Commission to stop [the] misuse of money.”
She also alleged that the “BJP had sent money to all districts through its agencies”. Banerjee, however, asserted that her party, the Trinamool Congress, will win in the upcoming polls “despite all these tricks”, PTI reported.
Earlier on Friday, the Election Commission announced dates for polls in four states – West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam – and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
The elections to the 294 seats in West Bengal will be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29. A total of 30 Assembly constituencies will go to polls in the first phase on March 27. The second phase will take place on April 1 for 30 constituencies.
In the third phase, 31 seats will go to polls on April 6. The fourth phase of voting will take place on April 10, with 44 constituencies in the fray. The fifth phase will be held on April 17 for 45 seats. In the sixth phase, 43 constituencies will vote on April 22, followed by the seventh phase on April 26 for 36 seats. The eighth and the final phase will be held on April 29 for 35 Assembly constituencies.
With eight phases this time, the West Bengal Assembly election is said to be the longest polls ever in the state, according to NDTV. While the polls will be held in eight phases in West Bengal, they will be concluded in a single phase in Puducherry, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which has 234 seats. Assam will vote in three phases.