By bappaditya paul
THE WEST BENGAL STATE ELECTION COMMISSION (SEC) on Monday told the Mamata Banerjee government that it would not be able to “effectively conduct” the forthcoming civic polls in the state unless it was provided with 150 companies of Central forces.
The poll panel has set a two-day deadline for the government to respond.
The straight talk came from the SEC as allegations of Trinamul atrocities on Opposition party workers and candidates are flying thick and fast from throughout the state amid alleged police inaction.
In a strongly-worded letter to the state Home Secretary Basudev Banerjee on Monday, Bengal state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya has told that based on its own assessment of the law and order situation, the poll panel had sought 50 companies of Central forces for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls on 18 April and 100 companies for the elections in another 91 civic bodies in the state on 25 April.
Unless the requisitioned number of Central forces, that is 150 companies in all, is provided at the earliest, “it will not be possible to conduct the polls effectively,” the letter read.
The poll panel has asked the state government to let it know in two-days, whether it was facilitating the requisitioned number of Central troops and their expected time of arrival in the state.
Today’s is the third communiqué that the SEC has sent to the Bengal government since mid-March over deployment of Central force.
Asked what would the SEC do if the state were unable to bring in Central force, Mr Upadhaya said that he would rather wait until 8 April before deciding the next course of action.
This was on a day the poll panel asked the Hooghly district magistrate to send an action taken report on Sunday’s vandalism at Champdani police outpost allegedly under the leadership of a Trinamul candidate for the civic polls.
CPI-M leader Rabin Deb today lodged fresh complaints with the SEC alleging that “Trinamul hooligans” were hindering the Left’s election campaigns in several parts of the state but the police administration were taking no action.
He specifically alleged that the O-C of Burtola police station in Kolkata was being “biased towards the Trinamul.”
Another Left delegation from Bankura called on the SEC separately and alleged Trinamul atrocities on their workers.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report was first published in The Statesman on 7 April 2015.)