Bengal poll panel seeks Guv’s intervention for Central force in civic polls

Bengal State Election Commission office on Rawdon Street in Kolkata.
Bengal State Election Commission office on Rawdon Street in Kolkata.

By bappaditya paul   

The West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) has sought the Governor’s intervention for deployment of Central force during the forthcoming civic polls in the state.

According to Raj Bhavan sources, state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya called on Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi last Saturday (21 March) and spoke to him for about half-an-hour.

The move follows the state government’s cold response to SEC’s 12 March requisition for 50 companies of Central troops for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls on 18 April and the elections in another 91 civic bodies on 25 April.

Bengal State Election Commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhyay
Bengal State Election Commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhyay

Mr Upadhaya today confirmed that he did meet the Governor. “Yes, I did call on the Governor on Saturday and apprised him of the need for Central troops during the civic polls. I have briefed him on all the communications that we have had till then with the state government over the matter,” he said on Monday evening, adding that the Governor had jotted down the necessary details.

The meeting could be a precursor to the state poll panel finally moving the Calcutta High Court for deployment of Central forces during the civic polls if the state does not concede to its recommendation by this weekend.

Ms Mira Pande
Ms Mira Pande

In 2013, the previous election commissioner Mira Pande had moved the Calcutta High Court and then the Supreme Court on the same issue after having briefed the then Governor M K Narayanan. The apex court had on that occasion ruled in favour of deploying Central troops during the panchayat polls in Bengal.

There are 1,516 polling premises housing 4,704 polling booths in KMC area; in the rest 91 poll-bound civic bodies, the number of polling premises is 3,951 with the number of polling booths being 8,756. The SEC wants to deploy Central forces in all the polling premises in addition to for area domination and route march to “boost the confidence of voters and ensure a free and fair elections”.Central forceThe poll panel is worried that with the BJP getting stronger in Bengal, there were chances of a face off with the ruling Trinamul Congress during the polls.

The CPI-M state secretary Dr Surjya Kanta Mishra had also cautioned on 18 March that the forthcoming civic polls in the state would see “massive bloodshed” as the “Left workers would put up a stiff resistance to Trinamul atrocities”.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 25 March 2015.)

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