The ruling Trinamool Congress said it was contemplating to appeal in the Supreme Court to hold the panchayat polls in West Bengal before Ramzan, a day after the apex court rescheduled the dates and directed that it be held in five phases from July 11.
"We abide by the order of the Honourable Supreme Court regarding the five-phase election. But, we are thinking of filing an appeal in the Supreme Court to complete the election process before 10 July when the Ramzan month starts," party MP and lawyer Kalyan Bandhopadhay and Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim told a press conference in Kolkata.
They said that they had received representations from the Muslim community conveying that it would cause inconvenience if the elections were held during Ramzan.
"Yesterday (on Friday), we said to the honourable Supreme Court kindly do not fix up the date during the Ramzan month. With great respect to the Supreme Court we are accepting the order that has been passed regarding the five phases of election. There is no dilly-dally in that matter," Bandhopadhay said. He said that that the state had a Muslim population of more than 35 per cent and there were 45,000 to 50,000 candidates belonging to the minority community, who would be inconvenienced if the polls were held during Ramzan.
Asked whether the appeal would be filed by the state government or the Trinamool Congress, Bandhopadhay replied, "We are in the process of thinking. It will be decided."
Bandhopadhay said that elections during the monsoon and Rathayatra festival from July 10 to 17 when a large number of people from West Bengal go to Puri would also pose problems. Besides, he said that the experience of the last 10 to 12 years showed that in and around July 15 most districts in north Bengal and Murshidabad district in the south were hit by floods.
Attacking state Election Commissioner Mira Pandey without naming her, Bandhopadhay alleged she was biased and was only interested in going to court. Claiming that his telephone calls to Pandey when TMC workers were beaten up in Chanditala constituency went unanswered, he said "She is only busy going to court and not busy in holding elections."
Bandhopadhay said that he was surprised to receive information that the SEC had given instructions to the BDO office at Jangipara in his constituency to remove photos of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from posters and banners of the Trinamool Congress. "Have you ever heard of it? Is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's photograph removed from party posters during elections? She is totally biased," he said.