Pending by-election in Bengal to be held before Durga Puja?

The pending by-elections in seven Assembly constituencies of West Bengal could be held before Durga Puja in October and the state administration is fully prepared to conduct it, officials of the state Chief Electoral Officer’s (CEO) office informed the poll body during a virtual meeting on Wednesday, sources said.

The seven seats are lying vacant either due to the deaths of candidates during the eight-phase Assembly election held earlier this year or the resignation of MLAs.

The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) is keen on the by-polls as party chief and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who lost the election from Nandigram, must be elected within November to be able to retain her post as the chief minister. For this, by-polls must be conducted by November 5.

“The festive season will continue from October 10 to October 24 and it is impossible to conduct the election at that time. So, the state has asked the Election Commission (EC) to conduct polls before the festive season begins.

“We have more than one month. If the Commission makes the notification (for holding the election in the seven seats) now, it is possible to conduct the polls before Durga Puja,” a senior state government official said.

Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra on Wednesday held a virtual meeting with Bengal Chief Secretary HK Diwedi. Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain, who is in charge of the West Bengal Assembly polls, and senior officials of the CEO’s office attended the meeting.