POINTING OUT THAT they do not have faith on the West Bengal police, the BJP today demanded to the Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) to deploy 500 companies of Central force for the coming civic polls or else hold the polls in multiple phases corresponding to the number of Central troops made available.
The demand came up on a day when a CPI-M delegation lodged a complain with the SEC alleging that Trinamul musclemen were stopping Left workers to campaign in ward numbers 1-3, 33-34, 67 and 136 of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC).
The BJP delegation led by state general secretary Asim Sarkar, which called on the state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya on Thursday afternoon, cited Trinamul atrocities on rival party cadres and police inaction as the reason behind their demand for such a huge number of Central force.
Around 71 companies of Central troops deployed during the 2013 panchayat elections in Bengal is the highest number of Central force to be deployed during a local body election in the state so far.
“We have demanded that the scale of deployment should be four jawans per polling booth. Hence, going by the number of booths, it will require around 500 companies of Central troops and we have demanded the election commissioner to ensure that,” Mr Sarkar told reporters.
The number of polling booths in the poll-bound civic bodies in the state is 13,460; of them 4,704 are in KMC area and 8,756 in another 91 civic bodies.
The BJP leader said that they have made such an unprecedented demand because the “law and order situation in the state has stumbled to an unprecedented low.”
“We have also said that if the Commission does not get 500 companies of Central force, then it should split the elections to 91 civic bodies in the state into multiples phases based on the actual availability of troops,” the BJP leader said.
Asked to comment on this, election commissioner Mr Upadhaya said that the poll panel has requisitioned 50 companies of Central force and they stick to that.
“As regards holding the polls in multiple phases, this is not permissible once the election notification has already been issued. Going by Article 243 (ZG) of the Constitution, even courts can not intervene in this now,” he said.