Conducting panchayat election more complex task: Bengal poll panel

Kolkata, July 30 (IANS) After successfully conducting the West Bengal panchayat polls, the State Election Commission Tuesday said conducting the rural poll is a complicated, time consuming and difficult task.

"Panchayat polls are far more complicated, time-consuming and involve complexities. Compared to assembly or even general elections, conducting rural polls is a difficult task," SEC chief Mira Pande told reporters here after the conclusion of the panchayat polls which the ruling Trinamool Congress swept claiming 13 of the 17 zila parishads (district councils).

Pande said the huge number of constituencies, the number of votes required to be cast and local issues made the polls a complex issue.

"The candidates fight the polls on local issues, so the volatility at the local level is higher when compared to assembly or general elections. Moreover, the fact that a voter has to cast votes three times and the sheer number of constituencies makes it a time consuming affair, thus increasing the complexities," said Pande.

With several political parties blaming inadequate use of central security forces for the alleged malpractices that occurred during the polls, Pande said the parties had a misconception that central forces were to be deployed in all the booths.

"If central forces were to be deployed in each booth then their quantum required would be far more than what was allowed by the court. We followed the standard procedure regarding their deployment. Some parties have a misconception the central forces need to be deployed at all booths," she said.

Admitting that voters had to wait for long in queues to exercise their franchise, Pande said increasing the number of booths was not viable owing to infrastructural deficiencies.

"The voters had to wait for long and polling continued till late night in many booths. The polls can have been better with more number of booths. But increasing the number of booths is not the answer alone.

"You need more infrastructure for that. More buildings, more polling staff. We have already been suffering from staff shortage," she said.

Pande also defended the Commission's decision to move the court and stage the polls in five phases.

"The responsibility was on us to conduct a free, fair and peaceful polls and we did what was required," she added.

She also conceded that there were a few instances of irregularities during the polls, for which the Commission has ordered repoll in several booths which will take place Aug 1 with the counting taking place Aug 3.

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