Citing the Covid-19 surge, state chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday urged the Election Commission to think about conducting polls for the remaining Assembly seats at one go, though the EC has ruled out the possibility of either curtailing or clubbing the remaining poll phases in the state, citing logistical problems.

The TMC chief, in a tweet, said that such a move should be taken in view of public interest. “Amidst an ongoing pandemic, we firmly opposed @ECISVEEP’s decision to conduct WB polls in 8 phases. Now, in view of the huge surge in #COVID19 cases, I urge the ECI to consider holding the remaining phases in ONE go,” the CM said. “This will protect the people from further exposure to #COVID19,” she added. An EC source, quoting Shefali Saran, an official EC spokesperson, said that there was no possibility of clubbing of the remaining three phases (sixth, seventh and eighth) due to paucity of Central forces.

There were indications that some political parties may raise the issue at an allparty meeting called by the chief electoral officer of West Bengal on Friday.

The meeting has been called to ensure that Covid- 19 guidelines issued by the EC are adhered to by political leaders during campaigning.

Meanwhile, Dilip Ghosh, the BJP state president, was barred from electioneering for 24 hours beginning from 7 tonight to 7 p.m. tomorrow for his “there will be Sitalkuchi in several places” remarks.

The EC has also served a show cause notice to BJP leader Sayantan Basu for inflammatory remarks he made regarding the Sitalkuchi incident. He was asked to give his reply within 24 hours.

Furthermore, the poll panel has also in a decision taken at a meeting held in Delhi chaired by the newly appointed CEO Sushil Chandra mandated security force to make preventive arrests instead of going for dispersal of a mob to avert incidents like what happened at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar.