The panchayat elections in West Bengal will be held on July 8, the State Election Commission said on Thursday.
Rajiva Sinha, the state election commissioner, informed further that the elections would be held in a single phase, adding, "The Model Code of Conduct has already come into effect."
The state poll panel chief added that candidates can file their nominations starting Friday till June 15.
The counting of votes will be held on July 11.
Shortly after the panchayat poll date was announced, the leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, hit out at the state poll panel claiming that it was working at the behest of the ruling Trinamool Congress.
Taking to Twitter, he said, "Murder of Democracy in West Bengal. For the 1st time ever, the Panchayat Elections have been announced unilaterally without holding a single All Party Meeting at the Block levels, District Levels or at the State Level. There hasn't been any discussion on the security arrangements for the single phase Elections. The time duration allotted for filing of nominations starts from tomorrow i.e. 9th June; Friday, with 15th June being the last date. 10th & 11th June being weekend, no official work would be possible."
"The intention of the WB State Election Commission is very clear. From the manner of declaration itself, it's clear that they would be acting actively as the Frontal Organisation of the Regional TMC Party. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee & State Election Commissioner Rajiv Sinha would be held responsible for any casualty resulting due to the violence which might erupt during the elections, because of this hasty declaration & lack of application of reasonable diligence & lack of consideration towards proper security arrangements," the BJP MLA added in his tweet.
The BJP's IT cell head, Amit Malviya, also raised concerns over the notification of the panchayat poll date, saying that a mere 5-day window for candidates to file nominations shows the state government's intent to "preclude candidates of other political parties" from entering the fray.
Malviya tweeted, "At 5:30 pm this evening, West Bengal State Election Commission, on instruction of Mamata Banerjee, has announced Panchayat Poll to be held on 8th Jul. Nominations to start tomorrow, i.e. 9th Jun and last date is 15th Jun (Sunday excluded). Just 5 days for approx 74,000 nominations across the state! The rigging has already begun. The small window for nominations is to preclude candidates of other political parties from filing."
"Why is Mamata Banerjee even pretending to hold an election? She can straightaway announce the result," he added. (ANI)