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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

BJP alleges central forces 'deliberately' not deployed in Bengal panchayat polls

Even where they were deployed, that was done only after the violence and looting of votes, said Dilip Ghosh

PTI Calcutta Published 09.07.23, 05:11 PM
Supporters block a road in protest against the killing of an independent candidate during panchayat polls, at Barasat in North 24 Parganas district, Saturday, July 8, 2023.

Supporters block a road in protest against the killing of an independent candidate during panchayat polls, at Barasat in North 24 Parganas district, Saturday, July 8, 2023. PTI

The opposition BJP in West Bengal on Sunday alleged that the central forces were not deployed "deliberately" during the panchayat elections, inviting a sharp retort from the ruling TMC which said there was no guarantee that violence would not have happened if the forces were deployed.

BJP national vice president Dilip Ghosh said if the central forces were deployed in sensitive places, there would not have been so much violence, and people could have exercised their franchise freely and without fear.

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"The central forces were not deployed in sensitive areas deliberately," he said.

Ghosh alleged that instead of deploying the forces in the polling booths, they were made to patrol highways or were kept at police stations.

"Even where they were deployed, that was done only after the violence and looting of votes," he claimed.

"They were ordered to be deployed in all booths by the Calcutta High Court, but that was not done," he said.

TMC said there was no guarantee that violence would not have happened if the forces were deployed.

TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh alleged that four people were killed in firing by central forces in Cooch Behar, during the 2021 assembly polls.

Polling was held in over 61,000 booths in the panchayat elections and violence happened in only about 60 booths, and serious incidents took place in eight of those.

"In most cases, TMC workers died due to the violence," he said.

Fifteen people have been killed in the violence that rocked the elections to the three-tier panchayat system in the state on Saturday, officials said.

BSF DIG of South Bengal Frontier SS Guleria earlier told PTI that the force was not provided details of sensitive booths.

"The allegations that the central forces and BSF have failed to provide security cover are completely baseless. We provided troops to the State Election Commission (SEC) for deployment. The polling was completely peaceful wherever central forces were deployed. Even if there were a few minor incidents, it was dealt with professionally," he said.

"We had asked for a list of sensitive booths from the SEC but it was not provided. We learned from the press that the number of sensitive booths is 4,384. The local administration decided on the deployment," he added.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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