Poll panel talks tough in Bengal
Dubai: To know the fate of the assembly elections in West Bengal, one will have to wait until May 13.
But with almost 80 per cent polling and a virtually incident-free third phase of voting in the three key districts of North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata city on Wednesday, there's one clear winner already on the horizon — the Election Commission of India.
As well as getting the security and logistics of the poll right, the Election Commission (EC) also got down to some tough talking with political parties.
Show cause notices were issued to Trinamool and the authorities of two nationalised banks over allegations of transactions worth Rs1.3 billion (Dh1.1 million) through two bank accounts of the party.
Meanwhile, former CPI (M) MP Anil Basu was at the receiving end of the EC's wrath for his obscene language against Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee at an election rally in Arambagh last Monday. He is to reply to the EC show cause notice by Saturday.
Leading a team of EC officials from New Delhi, India's Chief Election Commissioner, Shahabuddin Yakoob Qureshi, went to Kolkata yesterday and held meetings with representatives of all major political parties in the state.
While the CPI (M) and its Left Front partners were not yet ready to speculate, Mamata told an election rally in Hooghly district that the Trinamool-Congress combine would win around 150 of the 179 seats in the first three phases of polling.
A tall claim, but given the fact that CPI (M) returned empty-handed in these three crucial districts in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Mamata's prophecy may ring true.
The new government needs a minimum of 148 seats. A smug Mamata said on Wednesday: "With this third phase, I am quite confident of having reached the magic figure already."