Saibal Gupta, TOI, Feb 11, 2016, Kolkata: The Election Commission has indicated that the six-phase assembly elections in Bengal is likely to start in the first week of April.
Even though the government is trying to postpone the election by 20 more days, the argument seems to have no effect on the Election Commission's decision.
The chief electoral officer of Bengal, Sunil Gupta, who is currently in Coochbehar for administrative meetings, will meet the chief election commissioner on Saturday at Nirvachan Sadan to finalize the poll dates and security deployment plans. Besides Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Puducherry will also have their elections this year.
A state home department official said the Election Commission would declare the polling dates of all these states together. Sources added the state wanted a four-phase election, if not five, and that the election should start at April-end and end by May 10. "The state wants the election to wind up before the results of Madhyamik and HS are declared," a commission official said. The results are likely to be out around the first week of May.
"There should be a gap of four to five days for security forces and officials looking after the logistics support to move from one area to another. A six-phase election will take at least 22 to 28 days and then, comes the results," the official said. The Election Commission is likely to announce the dates by the end of this month.
But before that, the commission wants to have a final round of talks with the CEOs of the states going to polls. Accordingly, Bengal CEO Sunil Gupta have been asked to attend the meetingon Saturday.
Sources in Bengal CEO gupta's office indicated that among the 77,246 booths in the state, 23,809 have been identified as 'sensitive' and 8,172 'highly sensitive'. "The number of sensitive booths this time is fewer than those identified during the 2011 polls. We have worked out the details of the booths and Gupta will hand over the information to the commission to facilitate the planning of force deployment in those areas," an official said.
Gupta is also likely to inform the commission about the apparently deteriorating law-and-order situation in the three districts of Malda, Birbhum and Cooch Behar. "Special arrangements will be made in areas where the population of the minority community is high, and places under scetion 144 of the IPC, which does not allow more than two people to be in a public place together," the official said.
When asked about central force, the commission official said, "Call on the requirement and deployment pattern will only be taken after we get the booth and area mapping report from all the states. The requirement and the deployment pattern of the central paramilitary solely depends on three things- the number of phases, the nature of the constituencies and the adequacy of force. It is the decided at a much later stage and so at present nothing can be predicted".