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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Full bench of Election Commission of India to reach Bengal on Sunday to look into poll preparedness

Visit of 13-member team comes amid grave concerns over law and order in Sandeshkhali, coupled with accusations from BJP of presence of fraudulent voters

Saibal Gupta Calcutta Published 03.03.24, 10:41 AM
BJP leaders and supporters celebrate in Cooch Behar on Saturday after the party announced Nisith Pramanik as the candidate of the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat

BJP leaders and supporters celebrate in Cooch Behar on Saturday after the party announced Nisith Pramanik as the candidate of the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat Picture by Main Uddin Chisti

The full bench of the Election Commission of India will reach Bengal on Sunday evening to look into the poll preparedness in the state before the crucial Lok Sabha election.

This visit of the 13-member team comes amid grave concerns over law and order in Sandeshkhali in North 24-Parganas, coupled with accusations from the BJP of
the presence of fraudulent voters.

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Although chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar will arrive late on Sunday night, election commissioner Arun Goyal and deputy election commissioners Dharmendra Sharma and Nitesh Vyas will have a meeting with Bengal’s chief electoral officer Aariz Aftab and state nodal officer Anand Kumar on Sunday evening.

On Monday, the bench will hold a separate meeting with political parties regarding election-related complaints. This meeting aims to address allegations related to votes from the ruling and Opposition parties.

The BJP has already complained about the presence of fraudulent voters on the voter list. Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Suvendu Adhikari earlier met Aftab with a memorandum on the existence of around 16 lakh fraudulent or duplicate voters in Bengal and urged the poll panel to take remedial steps.

“We will raise the issue of fake voters and deteriorating law and order in the state in front of the commission,” a BJP leader said.

The commission will also have separate meetings with district administration and police officers, including the district magistrates, superintendents of police, police commissioner, divisional commissioners and IGs.

On Tuesday at 11am, the commission will hold a separate meeting with the chief secretary, the home secretary and the director-general of police.

Sources in the commission said that law and order in the state had been a major concern for the commission.

“Earlier the commission asked the state administration to execute all non-bailable arrest warrants before March 3 but 46,000 such warrants are still pending. The district administration has so far executed approximately 76,000 non-bailable arrest warrants. This will be a major issue in the meeting,” an official at the chief electoral officer’s office said.

The officials fear that the chief secretary and the DGP might be pulled up over the failure to contain the situation in Sandeshkhali. The commission has already sanctioned 150 companies of central forces that will work with the district administration to win the confidence of the people. The commission has aleady asked for 920 companies of central forces for free and fair Lok Sabha elections in Bengal.

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