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CM scurry on rural poll work

Calcutta, Sept. 24: Mamata Banerjee today instructed district magistrates to complete all rural-poll related preparations by October 1, throwing a hint at Writers’ that the countdown has begun.

The rural polls are scheduled for April-May next year. The chief minister, however, is keen on advancing the polls, a move perceived by political observers as her desperate attempt to cash in on the support base before anti-incumbency kicks in.

Mamata today landed up at the rotunda in Writers’ where chief secretary Samar Ghosh and home secretary Basudeb Banerjee were in a meeting on law and order, and asked the district magistrates to complete the preparations.

“The chief minister was not scheduled to attend the meeting but walked in and asked us to complete by October 1 the process of identifying seats that would be reserved for OBCs and women candidates. She also told us that the delimitation of seats would have to be completed by that date,” a district magistrate said.

The panchayat department has already informed the state election commission that it would like to advance the panchayat polls to the last week of January or the first week of February next year.

The chief minister also instructed the district magistrates to identify the sensitive areas. “In the previous panchayat polls, violent incidents had taken place in some districts. The chief minister made it clear that should not be repeated,” said another DM.

Officials said the government has already started preparations for the panchayat polls. At the meeting, the chief minister wanted to know when the electoral roll revision would start.

“We said the process would start on October 15 and the new roll would be published on January 15,” a district magistrate said.

“Though it is not clear when the notification will be issued by the state election commission, the state government wants to keep everything ready for an early poll,” the DM added.