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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Central agencies must not impede electoral process: Trinamul Congress tells EC

Additionally, the party demanded that Lok Sabha polls for the 42 parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal be conducted in a single day, arguing that conducting them in phases only benefits the opposition BJP

PTI Calcutta Published 04.03.24, 09:17 PM
Representational image.

Representational image. File picture.

The Trinamul Congress (TMC) on Monday urged the Election Commission to ensure that central agencies do not impede the electoral process.

The party also appealed to the commission to ensure that "central forces are not pressurised by the BJP".

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Additionally, the party demanded that Lok Sabha polls for the 42 parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal be conducted in a single day, arguing that conducting them in phases only benefits the opposition BJP.

Opposition parties, in separate delegations, asked the EC not to rely solely on the state police for the deployment of central forces and to ensure that the ruling party cannot manipulate the voting process.

Reiterating the demand for a single-phase poll, TMC MP and senior lawyer Kalyan Banerjee said, "We wanted to know why there cannot be a single-phase poll in Bengal? Is it to give any advantage to Narendra Modi, Amit Shah so that they can campaign for the BJP for as many days as they want? To suit their own advantage? This goes against the spirit of a level playing field in an election. We have brought forth this issue to the EC." Banerjee suggested if necessary, the EC should increase the number of paramilitary forces by three to five times but ensure completion of the voting in a single day.

However, he accused a section of the central forces of intimidating villagers and some jawans of urging voters to press the EVM button for the lotus symbol.| He added, "We asked the EC to ensure that the credibility of the central forces to the common man and their integrity do not suffer." Referring to the firing at Sitalkuchi by central forces in 2021, Banerjee said the security forces were not instilling confidence among the electorate, but were only stoking fear.

He alleged that Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari was dictating the movement of central forces and central agencies, calling upon the EC to ensure that the BJP is not allowed to control forces like BSF and CISF.

TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien accompanied Banerjee and urged the EC members to "keep a close watch" on Adhikari, terming him a "habitual offender".

The BJP delegation, led by party leader Jagannath Chattopadhyay, urged the EC to send two special observers holding the same rank as chief secretary and DGP as soon as the election notification is issued, and conduct tours across the state.

Chattopadhyay emphasised that this was necessary to prevent malpractices during elections, citing instances from recent panchayat voting.

CPI(M) leader Samik Lahiri flagged the panchayat poll violence in 2023 and 2018, stating, "The state police don't use central forces effectively on election day. We have urged the EC to look into this." The EC bench, led by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, held meetings with representatives of political parties during the day.

The EC team also plans to hold discussions with district magistrates, superintendents of police, and other officials of the state government. Additionally, they also intend to meet Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab, Chief Secretary BP Gopalika, and DGP Rajeev Kumar.

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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