Govt makes minor changes in phase II

Panchayat poll Governor talks to both sides.

The Trinamool Congress government made a minor change in its panchayat poll notification on Tuesday but remained firm on its decision to conduct the election in two phases. This a day after the state election commission sent an 11-page letter to the government asking it to review its March 22 notification on various grounds — from why a skewed distribution of the districts were going to polls in the two phases to whether there will be enough armed security personnel for poll activity.

Instead of holding the second phase of election in only three Congress-dominated districts of Malda, Murshidabad and North Dinajpur, the government has now decided to include three more north Bengal districts in that phase - South Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar.

Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee announced this after attending an hour-long meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Asked whether the government had bowed to the commission by rescheduling the polls, he said: "You can interpret it in your own way. What we have done is to avoid confrontation."

As per the revised notification, 11 districts will go to polls in the first phase on April 26 and the remaining six in the concluding phase on April 30. Sources in the commission said the government has asked them to issue a parallel notification "as early as possible" so that the model code of conduct comes into force.

The government effected the minor change in the schedule after a day of hectic activities in which Governor M K Narayanan is said to have played a crucial role. Election Commissioner Meera Pandey met him at Raj Bhavan. Following which the Governor summoned Chief Secretary Sanjoy Mitra at around half past six in the evening.

Sources said the Governor discussed with Mitra on how to find an amicable situation to the stalemate. Soon after this, the minister announced its decision.

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