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No central forces for West Bengal civic polls

4/9/2015 6:31:42 PM

By Soumitra Nandi
Kolkata:
The Central government has turned down the West Bengal government's appeal for central forces following a requisition by the State Election Commission to ensure peaceful polling in the upcoming civic elections in the state. 

"I have received a letter from the state Home Secretary that the centre has ruled out the availability of central forces in the upcoming municipal elections,” said State Election Commissioner SR Upadhyay. 

Expressing apprehension over fair and peaceful of the civic polls, an official in the commission said that it had written repeatedly asking the state government if it had taken up the availability of central forces to conduct peaceful civic elections in the state with the Centre. “We wrote to the state government to make appropriate communication with the Centre on the issue to strengthen confidence among people to cast their votes peacefully. It would have been a morale booster for the voters,” the official added.

Having no other alternative other than holding the polls with the state forces the commission now has a tough task in chalking out force deployment plan in consultation with the various agencies of the state.

The commission had expressed its desire of having at least 50 companies of central forces for civic polls in Kolkata and another 100 companies for the rest of municipalities. 

“Now we are wondering how to fill up this gap. A meeting will soon be called with different state agencies and senior state government officials to prepare an appropriate deployment plan for the upcoming civic polls," Upadhyay said.

Sources in the state election commission said that the centre had informed that the central forces had been deployed in good numbers in the Maoist affected states of the country leading to its dearth.

State Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee had in a letter to Upadhyay on March 25 said the state government had no objection in deployment of central forces for the civic polls in the state, the SEC said. 

Elections to the 144-seat Kolkata Municipal Corporation were slated for April 18, while polls to 91 municipalities across the state would be held on April 25. 

Opposition parties in West Bengal have been demanding deployment of central forces for the municipal elections in the state for conducting peaceful polls.

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