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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

No place for violence in elections, Bengal bureaucracy asked to be impartial: Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar

'The SPs have been repeatedly told that if there is any complaint of intimidation, they should take immediate action. They have assured us that it will be done. If they don’t act, we know what needs to be done to make them act'

PTI Calcutta Published 05.03.24, 01:03 PM
Rajiv Kumar

Rajiv Kumar PTI

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar on Tuesday said strict instructions have been issued to the West Bengal bureaucracy to ensure a level playing field for all political parties, and asserted that any form of violence will not be tolerated during the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Kumar, addressing a press conference here, said the goal of the Election Commission is to ensure free, fair and violence-free elections in the state.

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"There is no place for fear or intimidation in elections. Any partisan approach to the bureaucracy will not be tolerated; we have made this clear. There is absolutely no tolerance for any form of violence in this celebration of democracy," he said.

Kumar said a sufficient number of central forces will be deployed in West Bengal, and it will be done in an “impartial manner”.

The CEC also emphasised that law enforcement agencies and other related entities have been instructed to maintain strict surveillance on both interstate and international borders to curb the flow of inducements, especially drugs, gold, and counterfeit Indian currency.

He urged state and district administrations to ensure transparency in granting permissions to parties for ground and meeting places for campaigning based on a "First In First Out" principle.

Kumar stated, "No civilian volunteers or contractual staff should be assigned election duties or tasked with maintaining law and order, either directly or indirectly." "The SPs have been repeatedly told that if there is any complaint of intimidation, they should take immediate action. They have assured us that it will be done. If they don’t act, we know what needs to be done to make them act.

“Police officials have been instructed to be impartial and be accessible to all political parties at the district level," Kumar said.

It is imperative to maintain impartiality even at the junior level where officials operate at the grassroots, he said.

The CEC said that the total electorate in the state stands at 7.58 crore, comprising approximately 3.85 crore male and 3.73 crore female voters, with around 15.25 lakh being first-time voters.

Speaking on the deployment of central forces, he affirmed, "An adequate number of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) will be deployed in the state in advance for confidence-building measures." "The deployment will be made in consultation with District Electoral Officers (DEOs), Superintendents of Police, Police Commissioners, and General Observers to sensitive areas. The CAPF deployment plan must be shared with political parties during weekly meetings," Kumar said.

Kumar stressed the necessity for various agencies of both the state and central government, including the Enforcement Directorate (ED), to work in a coordinated manner rather than in isolation to ensure "inducement-free elections." Regarding the EC's efforts to curb the use of money power and liquor in elections, he emphasised the need for swift and stringent action against liquor kingpins.

"We have instructed all agencies to ensure strict action is taken against the use of money power during elections. We must halt the influx and distribution of liquor, cash, freebies, and drugs. Liquor smugglers must be apprehended. There must be vigilant monitoring of illicit online cash transfers via wallets," he highlighted.

The full bench of the Election Commission (EC) was in the metropolis for the last two days holding meetings with representatives of political parties, and would later meet government officials to discuss preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal.

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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