Union Home Ministry seeks deployment details of central forces from WBSEC

| Updated: 26 June, 2023 9:37 pm IST
Union home minister Amit Shah with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (file photo)

KOLKATA: The pitched battle over the deployment of central forces in poll-bound West Bengal took another twist as the Union Home Ministry reportedly sought details of the deployment of the forces by the West Bengal State Election Commission (WBSEC).

According to buzz in the state, the Union Home Ministry sought details of the deployment of 315 companies of central forces that have been requisitioned for panchayat poll in the state.

The letter comes as a counter-response after WBSEC wrote to the Union Home Ministry seeking the immediate deployment of another 485 companies of central armed forces personnel for the panchayat poll.

When contacted by The New Indian, the top officials of WBSEC remained tight-lipped about the letter.

ALSO READ: Mamata kickstarts TMC’s campaign from BJP stronghold, vows to win panchayats

WBSEC, at first, asked for 22 companies of central forces for the upcoming panchayat election. The opposition parties criticised the decision of the commission, citing violence during elections.

As the matter reached a court of law, the Calcutta high court termed the decision to deploy only 22 companies of central forces as ‘’thoroughly inadequate’. The court directed the WBSEC to requisition more than 82,000 central forces personnel.

The division bench, headed by Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam, slammed WBSEC’s decision to seek only 22 companies of central forces. Coming down heavily on WBSEC, it asked the State Election Commissioner, Rajiva Sinha, that ‘if it is difficult for him to take orders, he can step down’.

Citing an increase in the number of districts and voters, the HC directed WBSEC to requisition more than 82,000 central forces within 24 hours.

ALSO READ: Calcutta HC demands requisition of over 82,000 Central Forces

In 2013, the panchayat election in West Bengal was conducted in five phases, during which 825 companies of the central forces were deployed. The decision came after the then-chief election commissioner, Mira Pandey, went to the Supreme Court, demanding central forces for panchayat elections.

According to WBSEC sources, Election Commissioner Sinha himself has prepared a district-wise plan for the deployment of 315 companies of central forces.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Bengal unit and state unit of Congress filed separate Public Interest Litigations (PILs) demanding the deployment of Central forces ahead of the panchayat poll.

ALSO READ: Panchayat poll violence continues in Bengal as 5000 candidates withdraw

Left parties demanded continuous route marches by the central force to maintain a peaceful atmosphere ahead of the single phase panchayat poll.

The state experienced violence in various pockets during the filing of nominations as well as the withdrawal of nominations.

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