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Call for polls in 3 phases
- Left demand to ensure security in rural elections

Calcutta, Jan. 21: The Left Front today demanded that the panchayat polls be held in “at least’’ three phases to ensure adequate security arrangements for candidates and voters.

The Left move follows alleged threats by Trinamul ministers and MPs that they won’t allow the Opposition to file nominations in many areas, sources in the combine said.

After a meeting of the Left Front at Alimuddin Street this afternoon, CPM state secretary Biman Bose said: “We are hearing about reports that the Trinamul government wants a one-day panchayat elections. But that would be very unfair to people. The election should be held in at least three phases. That’s because there’s a need to ensure adequate security, which won’t be possible if polls are held on a single day.”

Bose alleged that some Trinamul ministers and MPs were threatening and intimidating Left workers and other Opposition parties and making provocative statements. “For free and fair elections, multiple phases are required,” he said.

“Some of these ministers and MPs are telling the people not to allow the Left and other Opposition parties to file nominations. They want to ensure that we don’t face the polls smoothly. In a way, our voters are also being given the message that there could be disturbances,” said Bose, who is also the Left Front chairman.

“We demand that the state election commission tell the government to see to it that a three-phase election is held,” Bose added.

The minister of state for agriculture, Becharam Manna, had yesterday said the CPM should be driven out of Bengal in the panchayat polls. Trinamul MP and Haldia strongman Subhendu Adhikari has been asking people at party gatherings not to allow CPM candidates to file nominations.

Elaborating on the “need” for at least a three-phase poll, Bose said the 2008 rural polls had been held in a similar manner.

“In 2008, the panchayat elections were held in three phases. The 2009 Lok Sabha polls were conducted in three phases. The 2011 Assembly elections had five phases. So what’s the problem in holding the rural polls this year in three stages,” Bose said.

According to the front chairman, the number of voters in the upcoming panchayat polls has increased significantly compared with the 2008 rural elections.

“This is another reason why a minimum of three phases should be held,” Bose said.