The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Law & order fine: poll panel

Calcutta, April 22: State election commissioner Ajoy Sinha today ruled out any likelihood of postponing the May 11 panchayat polls.

After meeting district magistrates this afternoon, Sinha said: “There is no possibility of a change of schedule. The law and order situation is now satisfactory. We had received many complaints and sent them for appropriate action to the district magistrates concerned.”

The Trinamul Congress-BJP combine has been demanding postponement over the “terror tactic” unleashed by the CPM.

BJP’s central leaders, such as Union human resources development minister Murli Monahar Joshi, too, had raised the demand.

During the day, CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said at a function in West Midnapore his party did not feel any need to postpone the polls or extend the time-frame for filing nominations.

“The panchayat elections are within the jurisdiction of the state election commission and it has already started the election process,” he said.

The state Congress today distanced itself from the Opposition combine’s demand. “If polls are postponed over the ruling party’s terror tactic, then it will never be held because the CPM terrorises the Opposition all the time,” former state party chief Somen Mitra said.

Sinha had yesterday asked the district magistrates to find whether candidates were prevented from filing nominations, if the situation was conducive for them to campaign freely and whether the electorate could participate in a free and fair poll.

“We have sought this assessment because of complaints and allegations on this score from various quarters. The dates of elections and filing of nominations, etc, can be modified in some exceptional circumstances like natural calamities, disasters, riots or disruptive violence,” a commission official said.

“If it is found that the situation is not conducive for candidates, political parties to canvass for polls freely and without fear, then the state election commission can consider such pleas after verification,” an official at the commission said.

The reports from about five district magistrates, however, said the situation was conducive for free and fair polls. “We expect to get the rest of the reports from the districts tomorrow,” the official said.

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