Kolkata, Mar 31 (PTI) The announcement of dates for the three-phased pancahayat polls has evoked mixed reactions from political parties in the state.

Although the ruling Trinamool Congress has welcomed the decision of the State Election Commission, the opposition Congress, BJP and CPI(M) seemed to have been caught off guard.

The West Bengal State Election Commission today announced three-phased panchayat polls in the state on May 1, 3 and 5. The counting of votes will take place on May 8.

BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha today criticised the state election body for announcing panchayat polls in West Bengal in early May and said the State Election Commissioner was “parroting” the government’s instructions.

One month’s time to hold any election is “inadequate” for the contesting political parties, he told reporters.

The Congress, on the other hand, demanded adequate deployment of central forces to ensure polls are free and fair.

The TMC, while reacting to the statements made by their political rivals, said opposition parties are afraid to face elections.

“The opposition is very well aware that people are with us and they will again face defeat in the elections. That is why they are afraid of facing elections,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said.

The panchayat election assumes significance as it is the last major poll in the state before the general elections next year.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.