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Featured Image: A file photo of Bengal state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya. 

Newsmen Bureau

Kolkata, 05 October: WITHIN hours of an ultimatum by the ruling Trinamool Congress, the Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) has announced a new date for counting of votes for Bidhannagar (Salt Lake), Bally and Asansol civic polls which it had put off on Sunday evening.

This after Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee on Monday afternoon held a near four hour meeting with the state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya and then told reporters that the party would hold a protest march to the SEC office on Tuesday if the poll panel did not announce a new counting date by then.

Barely three hours after this, Upadhaya told a news conference a little ago in the evening that the civic polls counting would be held on Friday 09 October.

“There will be re-poll in some polling booths in the three civic bodies on 08 October and the counting will be on 09 October. I cannot specify the number of booths where re-poll will be taken as we are still examining the complaints and reports from the concerned election officials,” Upadhaya said.

He had on Sunday told the Press that the counting would be on hold for an indefinite period as the poll panel needed time to examine all the complaints and to scan the video footage captured by web-cams that they had installed in the polling booths.

In fact in an earlier Press meet on Monday evening, Upadhaya had reiterated that the panel needed time to scan the near 100 web-cam footage. But he made a magic U-turn within two hours, clearly under pressure from the ruling party.

A delegation of Trinamool leaders led by party secretary general Chatterjee was in the poll commissioner’s chamber for about four hours in the afternoon pressing for a new counting date and the party was also holding a demonstration in front of the SEC office since morning.

Reacting to the new announcement, Chatterjee has said that in view of the development, the party would keep its Tuesday 2 pm rally confined to College Square to Rani Rashmoni Avenue and would not march to the SEC office as he had announced earlier in the afternoon.

All the Opposition parties ~ BJP, Congress and the Left have severely condemned the volte-face by the poll commissioner. These parties had demanded countermanding the 03 October polls in their entirety and conducting a fresh civic poll at Bidhannagar (Salt Lake), Bally and Asansol. This after the 03 October polls saw massive rigging and violence by outsiders allegedly backed by the Trinamool and assaults on some 21 media persons for reporting the same.