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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

Panchayat polls: State Election Commission seeks 800 more companies of central forces

BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari says paramilitary forces inadequate for rural elections, to take up matter with high court

Pranesh Sarkar Calcutta Published 23.06.23, 05:25 AM
Suvendu Adhikari.

Suvendu Adhikari. File photo

The State Election Commission (SEC) on Thursday made a requisition for 800 companies of central forces for the July 8 panchayat polls, a day after Calcutta High Court had ordered the panel to seek within 24 hours paramilitary personnel whose number wouldn’t be fewer than what had been deployed for the 2013 rural polls.

The commission had earlier requisitioned 22 companies of central forces for the coming elections. The total number of companies sought from the Union home ministry so far is 822.

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For the 2013 panchayat elections which had been conducted in five phases, over 820 companies of central forces had been deployed.

“About 200 companies were deployed for the first four phases in 2013. The number of companies deployed for the fifth and final phase was much fewer as voting then was held in a few districts. As the coming polls will be held in one phase, all the 822 companies will be required immediately,” said a senior bureaucrat.

The Opposition parties said 822 companies of central forces would be meagre.

BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari said he would take up the matter with the high court. “My contempt petition (regarding the deployment of central forces) will be heard tomorrow (on Friday). I will raise the issue of inadequate forces during the hearing,” Adhikari said.

Senior government officials said the responsibility of the poll panel did not end with sending the request for the central forces as directed by the high court.

“The commission will face a much bigger challenge after the central forces arrive in the state. The challenge will be to deploy the forces after assessing the need in each district. The commission has to do this job diligently as the poll panel has already come under severe criticism from not only Opposition parties but the high court also,” said a bureaucrat.

Sources said questions were being also raised over the proper deployment of central forces as the commission had primarily identified only 189 of 61,000-odd booths as sensitive.

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