Mamata Banerjee may be highly critical of the decision by the Election Commission to expand West Bengal Assembly polls into an unprecedented eight-phase lasting a month, but the central administration argues it has brought on unchecked violence in the State.
The chief minister of West Bengal had challenged the logic of the EC after the eight-phase polls, stating that the BJP was supported by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. She had questioned why eight phases were needed for West Bengal’s 294 seats if elections could be held in Tamil Nadu with 234 seats?
Though Sunil Arora, CEC, has clarified that this decision has been taken because of security problems in the state, a BJP leader says Mamata can do some introspection about the law and order in the state before raising fingers on the PM and the home minister. “Multiple phase election ”
The polls in 2011 took place in six phases, and in 2016, the elections took place in six phases as well, although the first one was split into two days in Naxal zones, essentially making a seven-phase election,” says the state leader of the BJP.
EC sources suggest the contrast between West Bengal and Tamil Nadu elections is not fair. “States both have multiple challenges. The land condition has always been determined in stages. Tamil Nadu has a history of abuse but has a concern with electoral spending. Bengal wants more armed forces, while Tamil Nadu needs on-the-ground expenditures monitors such as income tax and IAS officials,”
The need for the central paramilitary powers ensures that votes must be distributed through separate phases. “The powers need to switch between areas of the empire, between states. The Center cannot spare much time to guarantee a single election,” states the EC officer.