Calcutta, Jan. 20: Officials in the Election Commission are veering round to the view that law and order has virtually collapsed in parts of Bengal and both the ruling and Opposition parties have a role in the flare-up, sources in New Delhi told The Telegraph today.
The final conclusions will decide the number of phases for the Assembly elections the higher the gravity of the situation, the wider the poll window. They will also have a bearing on deployment and transfer of officials suspected to be harbouring bias.
The initial assessment is based on inputs the commission received from the ground in Bengal, the sources added.
Two teams deputed by the commission have visited Bengal and one of them is still in the state. The latest team, which includes police officers, will submit its report on January 26.
However, the commission appears to have pieced together the big picture on the basis of a report by the earlier team that was in the city on January 8 and 9 and informal feedback from some members of the current delegation touring parts of the state.
It was on the basis of the grim report by the first team that the special six-member observer delegation, termed unprecedented and unusual by the CPM because it includes IPS officers, was sent to Bengal.
That is why the team was sent in the first place. The report of the team, to be filed by January 26, will be the basis of our plan of action to get a grip on the law-and-order situation ahead of the crucial Assembly polls in the state, election commissioner H.S. Brahma told The Telegraph from Delhi.
The plan will detail the size of the central forces, their deployment and the number of phases for the polls.
The number of phases too will be finalised after going through the teams findings. The more grievous the situation, the more phases there will be, said a commission official.
So far, commission officials are more or less agreed on the following points:
■ Political killings are taking place in Bengal.
■ Political parties have armed supporters in the state.
■ Both the ruling CPM and the parties in the Opposition have a role in the surge of violence.
■ A turf war between the CPM and the Maoists continues in Jungle Mahal.
Commission sources in Delhi said the latest team had so far corroborated the prior assessment by the commissions top brass and added that the Opposition in Bengal was partly responsible for the clashes.
In most of the zones, the Trinamul Congress is following the eye-for-an-eye principle against the CPM. That has resulted in a drastic escalation in violence. The CPM is to blame, of course, but more for its government being a failure in containing and preventing the conflicts than for its alleged singular role in unleashing violence, a source said.
According to the feedback, the state has done little to seize illegal arms, execute non-bailable warrants and step up preventive arrests.
In the Maoist-affected zones, like Netai and Lalgarh (West Midnapore), the rebels have become a perennial problem alongside the ruling CPMs desperation to win back lost ground, the source said.