West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.(File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Kolkata, Feb 26 : West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has questioned the eight-phase schedule for West Bengal Assembly elections that was announced by the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday.

According to the ECI, West Bengal will go to the polls in eight phases -- on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29 -- while the counting of votes will take place on May 2.

Questioning the rationale behind conducting the Assembly polls in eight phases, the Chief Minister said, "I respect the Election Commission's decision and we will follow all its guidelines during the polls. But why has it broken up the South 24-Parganas district which is a Trinamool stronghold? The voting will be held in three different phases there," she told a press conference after the poll schedule was announced by the ECI.

She also questioned if the announcement was made as per the BJP's convenience. "Are these dates being announced by the EC to benefit the BJP in Bengal," Banerjee asked.

Claiming that there would be a political duel between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP in the coming elections, Banerjee said her party is ready for the battle as ahe promised to defeat the saffron force in the forthcoming polls.

"We belong to the grassroots. The BJP is playing a divisive politics in Bengal. I have known Bengal since my student days, when I had joined politics. The people of the state will give a befitting reply to BJP's conspiracy," she said.

"No outsider will rule Bengal. I would humbly request the EC not to view Bengal from the eyes of the BJP. We are common people and we know how to fight our battle. I am really sorry and shocked. But I still welcome EC's decision," Banerjee added.

She further pointed out that the Centre can't misuse its powers for a state election.

"If they do it, that will be a big, big blunder and they will have to face the music," the Chief Minister said, as she requested the EC to stop the misuse of money.

"The BJP has sent money to all the districts through different Central agencies," she claimed.

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