TMC seeks clubbing of last three phases of polls at all party meet

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Kolkata, Apr 16 (PTI) Ruling Trinamool Congress Friday sought clubbing of the last three phases of assembly elections after the fifth round on Saturday considering alarming COVID situation in West Bengal.

After Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on the previous day mooted the idea of conducting polls for the remaining phases at one go, TMC Secretary General Partha Chatterjee sought clubbinbg of the last three rounds of voting into one at a meeting with the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ariz Aftab here.

The Election Commission had Thursday dismissed chance of holding the last three phases of assembly polls in West Bengal together,saying '(There is) no such plan of clubbing phases.' Emerging from an all-party meeting called by the CEO, Chatterjee said that in order to save the lives of people and to control COVID-19 infections while allowing candidates ample time for campaigning, a balance has to be drawn by the Election Commission.

'We have told the commission that in order to give the people proper healthcare facilities amid COVID situation, the last three phases may be clubbed into one, while ensuring that the democratic rights of the people are upheld,' Chatterjee told reporters.

He said that all stakeholders, including the candidates, political parties and the general public, have a role to play in controlling the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The fifth leg of the eight-phase assembly elections for 294-member Bengal house are scheduled on Saturday and the next three rounds will be held on April 22, 26 and 29.

A total of 114 seats are scheduled to go for polls in the last three phases.

At least five candidates of different parties contesting the ongoing assembly election in Bengal have tested positive for COVID-19.

Out of them, three are from Trinamool Congress (TMC), and one each from Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and BJP, a state health department official said. PTI AMR SNS SNS