The state government has proposed May 5 and May 8 as fresh dates for the polls but the poll panel is firm on holding the polls in three phases. The state government moved an application before the court of Justice Biswanath Somadder hoping that the latter would direct the commission to notify the dates chosen by the government.
The commission, on the other hand, said that the state government's declaring the dates under Section 42 of the West Bengal Panchayat Election Act was an unilateral move and was against the constitutional norm. The panel also sought a speedy disposal of its petition so that the polls can be held on time.
The tenure of the existing panchayat bodies expires in early June and if the successor bodies are not formed by then, the future of the rural bodies will become uncertain. Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has expressed his displeasure with the continuing deadlock and warned that no funds for rural job scheme will be released for the state if the panchayat polls are not held on time.
The commission had moved the high court seeking cancellation of the dates announced by the government earlier, i.e., April 26 and 30, saying it was unconstitutional. The government told the court that it had decided on new dates for the polls.
The two sides also disagreed on the deployment of forces for the polls. While the commission insisted on central forces to supervise the elections, the state government said state forces were adequate to handle them. The latter also said that bringing the central forces was not an economically viable option.