Kolkata/New Delhi: On 3 April, a Sirf News report, “BJP’s Bengal chapter may well have begun,” read: “All eyes are now on the EC’s ability to deploy the CRPF and other paramilitary forces in sensitive areas. Banerjee will try her best to keep the central security forces confined to the barracks as Lalu Prasad Yadav used to do in Bihar.” Now special observer of the Election Commission Ajay V Nayak has reported that the current situation in West Bengal is like that of Bihar 15 years ago.
[pullquote]Strangely, the Election Commission, now headed by a retired IAS officer of the Rajasthan cadre, Sunil Arora, has taken no action on the farce of democracy played out in Bengal during the second phase of Lok Sabha election[/pullquote]
Nayak, who is Bihar’s chief electoral officer (CEO), said that the people of West Bengal have no confidence in the State police. Therefore, the demand for deployment of central forces has increased on all polling stations.
Talking to reporters in the office of West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer, the poll observer said that now things have improved in Bihar and there is a need for a smaller number of central forces.
Poll observer IAS Nayak of the 1984 batch was given the responsibility of monitoring the last five phases of the Lok Sabha election in West Bengal recently. He said, “The current situation in West Bengal is like the condition of 15 years old Bihar. In Bihar at that time, deployment of central forces was required at all polling stations. Now, this need is felt in West Bengal because the people of the State do not trust West Bengal Police. They are demanding deployment of central forces at all the polling stations.”
During the second phase of the Lok Sabha election in Bengal, Hindus of an entire village dominated by Muslim supporters of the Trinamool were not allowed to vote. Further, Bengal witnessed wanton rigging of the polling process, footage of which was broadcast on national television throughout that day.
Strangely, the Election Commission, now headed by a retired IAS officer of the Rajasthan cadre, Sunil Arora, has taken no action on the farce of democracy played out in Bengal.
Election observer Nayak, however, said in the presence of West Bengal Chief Executive Officer Ariz Aftab, “I cannot understand why, when people of Bihar succeeded in bringing about change in the environment and circumstances, it cannot happen in West Bengal.”
During the third phase of voting on 23 April, 324 companies of central forces will be deployed at more than 92% of the polling stations in five Lok Sabha constituencies.
On 23 April, voting will be held in West Bengal’s Balurghat, Malda North, Malda Southern, Jangipur and Murshidabad Lok Sabha seats.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has transferred the Malda Superintendent of Police Arnab Ghosh. Ajay Prasad replaces the outgoing Malda’s Superintendent of Police.
Sources said that Ghosh, apparently close to Trinamool Congress administration, was being monitored by the Election Commission. A few days ago, the State BJP had demanded the removal of Ghosh from the post of the Election Commission.
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While the EC asks the Union government every election season to arrange for paramilitary forces to ensure free and fair polling, it is up to individual State governments to let the central security personnel be deployed in sensitive areas or keep the paramilitary jawans confined to the barracks. This is a flawed system skewed in favour of State governments but, as of now, this is how things work (or don’t) as far as security arrangements in polling areas are concerned.