The West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) on Tuesday sent a requisition for just one company of central armed force for each district for the July 8 panchayat elections.
The action on the part of the SEC came after the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the earlier order of the Calcutta High Court for deployment of central armed forces throughout the state for the rural civic body elections.
The opposition parties have described the requisition of the SEC as eyewash following the top court's order.
The opposition parties have pointed out that the number of central forces personnel sought by the SEC is too little to ensure security in the 61,636 polling booths for 63,229 panchayat seats, 9,730 panchayat samiti seats and 928 zilla parishad seats.
Retired ADGP Nazrul Islam pointed out that in one company of central armed police force, there are only around 100 personnel, out of which around 75 are ground operation staff, while the remaining are supporting staff like radio operators, cooking assistants and cleaning assistants, among others.
So in reality, only 75 personnel will man one district.
During the panchayat polls in 2013, then State Election Commissioner Meera Pandey had insisted on the deployment of central forces, and on an average, 3,500 personnel were deployed in each district, which is a sharp contrast to SEC's requisition this time.
The opposition parties termed the latest development as a gross insult to the order of the apex court, which directed for deployment of central forces to ensure free and fair polls.
Bengal Congress President and Lok Sabha MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the SEC is acting as per the directions of the state government, and making a mockery of the entire election process.
Hinting that he might approach the court on this count, Chowdhury said that whatever will happen now will take place in the court.
CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya said that the move of seeking just one company for each district is proof that neither the state government nor the SEC is serious about ensuring free and fair elections.
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