Panchayat polls in Bengal on May 11, 14 and 18

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Kolkata, Apr 8 (UNI) A day after the West Bengal government's recommendation, the State Election Commission today announced three-phase elections to three-tier Panchayat in 17 out of 18 districts in the state on May 11, 14 and 18.

State Election Commissioner Ashok Gupta said East and West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia and Burdwan districts would go to polls on May 11, while Nadia, North and South 24-Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly on May 14 and Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, North and South Dinajpurs, Malda, Murshidabad and Birbhum on May 18.

The government did not recommend polls in three hill sub-divisions under Darjeeling district - Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong - while election to Siliguri sub-division is not due yet.

While Gram Panchayat has 35,688 consituencies comprising 41,513 seats, Panchachat Samity 8798 seats and Zilla Parishad 748 seats under the three-tier system.

The date of issue of notice inviting nominations for districts, where polls will be held in the first and second phase, falls on April 9, while April 12 for districts going to polls in the third and last phase, Mr Gupta said.

April 16 is the last date for filing nominations for the first two phases and April 19 for the last phase.

Scrutiny of nomination papers would be taken up on April 18 and 21 respectively, while the last dates for withdrawal of candidatures are April 21 and 24 repectively.

Altogehter 3,68,72,222 voters are expected to exercise their franchise in about 47,731 polling stations across the state.

About 205 observers would oversee pollings in 329 blocks and counting of votes, likely to be taken up on May 21, said Mr Gupta.

On security arrangments, Mr Gupta said though he had requested the government to provide two armed policemen for every polling station, he was not sure whether it was possible.

For 47,731 polling stations, the government would require at least 95,462 armed security personnel, he stated.

He said the election code of conduct will be enforced from April nine.

To a question, Mr Gupta said he had not received any query regarding ''Bangla Bandh'' on April 21, the last date for withdrawal of candidatures for the first and second phase polls.

A high-level meeting, presided over by Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb, had directed the DMs and SPs to take adequate measures to ensure a free and fair poll.

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