The Election Commission is likely to engage 1 lac central security personnel in the upcoming Bengal Assembly elections. In the last Lok Sabha polls, around 70,500 CRPF personnel were deployed in the state. In the 2016 Assembly elections, the number was around 70,000.
The decision was followed by the three-day visit of the ECI’s full bench to the state to take stock of the ground situation. “The full bench interacted with all major political parties. This was followed by a review meeting in Delhi and the decision to enhance the central forces was taken,” said an ECI official in Kolkata.
Elaborating on the requirement of the record number of force, the official said the number of booths are also going to be increased. “Considering Covid-19 pandemic, around 22,000 auxiliary booths will be set up for a large number of electorates in the existing 78,903 booths. The volume of additional force will be required to ensure free and fair elections,” he said.
The ECI will ensure the deployment of the central force well in advance as part of confidence-building measure among the electorates. Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora, during his Bengal visit, had said that the central force shall be in the state ahead of the polls.
Supreme Court bins plea seeking to ensure free, fair elections in Bengal, security for opposition
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking “free and fair” assembly elections in West Bengal as well as security for opposition leaders in the state, news agency ANI reported. A public interest litigation (PIL) in this regard was filed in the top court by on behalf of petitioner Puneet Kaur Dhanda in December last year, according to Live Law.
In his plea, the petitioner also sought the issuance of directions to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to submit a detailed report regarding “bogus voters” in West Bengal, where assembly elections will take place in April-May, along with those in Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Union territory of Puducherry.
In the build-up to assembly polls in West Bengal, there have been several instances of violence between workers of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) and those belonging to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Just days before the PIL was filed in the top court, a convoy of BJP national president JP Nadda was attacked, allegedly by TMC supporters. Nadda escaped unharmed but the party’s state in-charge, Kailash Vijayvargiya, sustained injuries, as a result of which his security was enhanced by the Centre, where the BJP is in power. The incident also triggered a tussle between the Centre and the state government.