State Election Commissioner Sourav Das on Thursday met West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar who asked him to ensure peaceful and fair civic polls in the state, and take action to prevent a repeat of the violence that marred the panchayat elections in 2018. The meeting, which lasted for 20 minutes, took place at the Raj Bhavan.
In the meeting, Dhankhar told Das to ensure that the “kind of scenario noticed” in the panchayat elections held in May 2018 is not repeated and the civic polls, likely to be held in mid-April, take place in a peaceful, orderly and fair atmosphere, according to an official statement.The governor also asked the commissioner to keep him informed about the steps taken by the poll panel. Dhankhar underlined the need in giving all parties equal opportunities as a pre-requisite to free and fair polls.
He told the commissioner that if the situation arises, Das may “take recourse even to transferring officials in the interest of ensuring fair and peaceful polls”.
The governor further said that the state election commissioner must take all steps to dispel fears and impressions that the poll panel is an extension of the government and must engage in dialogue with all stakeholders.
The statement further said that the commissioner needs to tell the police and administration that any partisan approach would invite exemplary consequences. The commissioner informed Dhankhar that he will be meeting district magistrates on March 4.
Das was accompanied by secretary of the commission Nilanjan Sandilya to the meeting. He was tight-lipped about discussions in the meeting amid queries from reporters while leaving the governor’s official residence around 11.50 am.
Widespread violence during the panchayat polls in 2018 claimed at least 12 lives and left 43 injured. The elections to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and 107 other civic bodies across the state are likely to be held in mid-April, according to official sources. The state government is keen on holding the elections between April 12-26, the sources said.