Kolkata: A Day after the Calcutta High Court asked the West Bengal Election Commission (SEC) to consider postponing of elections in four Municipal Corporations scheduled on January 22, the state government has written to the state poll body that they don’t have any objection if the SEC decides to postpone the election for another 4 to 6 weeks considering the Covid situation in the state.
Though the commission is yet to make any formal announcement, sources in the commission indicated that the state poll body is likely to accept the recommendations made by the state and postpone the election at least till February 12. The commission had earlier announced that there will be elections in four municipal corporations including Asansol, Bidhannagar, Siliguri and Chandannagar on January 22 and the results will be announced on January 25.
Sources in the commission also indicated that they are keen to conduct the election in other municipalities at the end of February. Elections in 107 municipalities and Howrah Municipal Corporation will be held by the end of February. Sources in the commission also indicated that the commission might speak to the Disaster Management Department to decide the modalities and other aspects related to this election.
“The election has already been announced and the nomination part has also been over and in this condition, we need to find out the best possible situation without hampering the constitutional provisions. We will also have to work out the modalities for the election,” a senior official at the commission said.
The division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava was hearing a PIL filed by one Bimal Bhattacharya, who argued that considering the escalating Covid-19 situation, the civic polls should be postponed.
During the hearing on Thursday the state government and the commission had tried to push the responsibility on each other. Advocate appearing for the commission Jayanta Mitra had said that the commission cannot take the decision of stopping an election because it is the state’s responsibility. “According to law, the commission cannot cancel a pre-declared election but if the disaster management act is implemented in the state, then the election will have to be cancelled,” Mitra said.
On the other hand, the advocate appearing for the state said that the commission only has the authority to cancel the election and the state has got nothing to do with it. The division bench asked both the state and the commission about their lack of coordination in this matter.
On Friday, the court directed the commission to take the final call on this issue. Now after the state’s letter to the commission, the poll panel has no problem in postponing the election.