The secretary-general of Trinamool Congress Partha Chatterjee on Thursday met the officials of Election Commission of India (ECI) and alleged that Border Security Force (BSF) officers are threatening the villagers living on the bordering areas in name of a particular political party.
“Today, we met the ECI officials and briefed them about shocking reports of how BSF jawans are threatening the villagers on the bordering areas. We came to know that they are threatening the villagers to vote for a particular party claiming that the state government can’t do anything as bordering areas will be manned by them,” Chatterjee said. She also requested the ECI to conduct ‘mock polls’.
Countering Chatterjee’s allegations, State BJP president, Dilip Ghosh said, “He may say many things and I am not going to comment on that. Today, we told the ECI to take all required steps to ensure peaceful elections in Bengal. We demanded that paramilitary forces should be deployed to man the booths while the state police should be deployed outside the booth campus.”
“Not the least, we have asked them to provide adequate security to the polling officers and the villagers so that they can conduct and cast their votes fearlessly. We also reminded the ECI about the extent of violence which happened in Bengal during 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” Ghosh said.
Earlier today, a full bench of the Election Commission of India (ECI) held a meeting in Kolkata with top bureaucrats and leaders of all political parties in West Bengal to discuss preparedness and hear grievances/suggestions for the upcoming assembly polls scheduled to be held this year in April-May.
The ECI officials comprising chief election commissioner Sunil Arora and election commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajeev Kumar held a meeting with state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ariz Aftab and ADG, Law and Order, Gyanwant Singh.
It was learnt that the ECI sensing law and order issues had suggested to increase the number of paramilitary forces during the polls. They have also sought a report on existing movable and nonmovable infrastructures in the state to conduct free and fair polls in the state. They also suggested that there should be more booths as compared to last assembly polls for better management of the electoral process.
On January 19, the state government had appointed two senior IAS officers- Smatraki Mahapatra and Sanghamitra Ghosh as the joint chief electoral officer and additional chief electoral officer, respectively.
The ECI officials arrived in Kolkata for a three-day visit to take stock of the law and order situation and review the preparedness for the ensuing Assembly elections in West Bengal. The bench also held meetings with the Divisional Commissioners, DMs, and SPs of the districts and senior administrative officials including the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and DGP to prepare a ground report to hold the polls.
Recently on January 15, ECI had issued a statement, “Many instances have come to the notice of the Commission wherein Chief Electoral Officers and some other officials working directly in the office of Chief Electoral Officers like Additional Chief Electoral Officers and Joint Chief Electoral Officers, etc. have been victimised after the elections are over. Ironically, in most such instances the concerned officers had discharged their duties in an impartial manner in order to ensure free, fair, robust and ethical elections.”
“After a comprehensive review of this issue and keeping in view such specific instances, Commission has addressed a communication to all concerned that the state/UT governments shall invariably obtain prior approval of the Commission, if any disciplinary action is initiated against the Chief Electoral Officers and other officers up to Joint Chief Electoral Officer during their tenure and also up to one year from the expiry of last election conducted by them,” it further added.