The West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday announced three-phase panchayat polls in May.
Panchayat polls will be held in three phases on 1, 3 and 5 May, State Election Commissioner AK Singh told reporters. The counting of votes will take place on 8 May.
The SEC earlier this week met representatives of political parties and discussed preparations for the panchayat polls.
According to a report in the Times of India, polling in six districts, including Maldah, Murshidabad and Nadia, might be held in the second phase, while the South Bengal election could be held in the third phase.
The West Bengal panchayat elections were in the spotlight last month when BJP leader Mukul Roy requested the Election Commission to send 50 observers to West Bengal during the panchayat polls to learn how the Trinamool Congress "rigged the poll process".
Roy, along with other state BJP leaders, met Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat and urged the body to create a separate model of poll security for West Bengal.
"We know that the panchayat elections are not conducted under the Election Commission. But we requested them to send a group of central observers to study and analyse how polls are being rigged in Bengal so that they can learn and create a separate poll security model for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections for West Bengal," Roy said.
The panchayat election assumes significance as it is the last major poll in the state before the general elections next year.
On 1 May, polling will be held in 12 districts, while on 3 May voting will be held in two districts, State Election Commissioner (SEC) AK Singh said to reporters.
In the third phase, voting will be held in six districts, Singh said, adding panchayat polls will not be held in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts.
The districts where voting will be held in the first phase are Nadia, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, East Burdwan, West Burdwan, Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram, West Midnapore and East Midnapore.
On 3 May, polling will be held in Murshidabad and Birbhum districts, while in the third phase on 5 May, voting will take place in Coochbehar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda districts, Singh said.
Repoll, if any, for the first phase will be held on 3 May, for the second phase on 5 May and for the third phase on 7 May.
Notification for the election will be issued on Saturday itself, while the last date for filing nominations is 9 April. The date of scrutiny of papers is April 11 and the last date for withdrawal of candidature is 16 April.
Counting of votes will take place on 8 May, the SEC said, adding the election process will have to be completed by 15 May.
Singh said with the model code of conduct coming into force from today, new schemes for panchayat areas cannot be announced or inaugurated. Neither can foundation stones for any new projects be laid in these ares.
Ongoing projects can, however, continue, he said.
"In case of natural disasters, permission for starting new work or distribution of materials will be taken up by district authorities or from the State Election Commission.
"No minister or ministry-ranked officials can use pilot car with or without beacon light unless there is security threat assessed by appropriate police officers," Singh said.
An estimated 5.08 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise for elections to gram panchayats, panchayat samitis and zilla parishads.
Elections will be held in 48,751 seats in 3,358 gram panchayats, 9,240 seats in 341 panchayat samitis and 825 seats in 20 zilla parishads. There will be total 57233 booths spread across the 20 districts.
Earlier this week, the SEC had met representatives of political parties and discussed preparations for the panchayat polls.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Mar 31, 2018 19:27 PM