The BJP said it moved the Supreme Court on Thursday praying for deployment of central paramilitary forces during the coming municipal elections in West Bengal, claiming that it the state had witnessed violence during past civic polls when security was provided by state police force. The party has already raised the issue with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said.
"Going by the experience of 2018 panchayat polls and past municipal elections, there will be widespread violence if the voting takes place under the supervision of state police. The opposition will not be allowed to campaign and voters will not be allowed to vote. Only central forces can prevent such a situation," Majumdar added. So, the BJP moved the Supreme Court seeking central paramilitary forces during civic polls, he said.
Elections to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation are scheduled to be held on December 19, and polls to the other municipal bodies are likely to be conducted in phases thereafter. In a letter to the SEC on Thursday, the BJP demanded deployment of central armed police force for free and fair polls and warned that the state poll panel would be held responsible for any untoward incident during elections.
Two days back, a BJP delegation met the governor and urged him to give direction to the State Election Commission (SEC) to hold the civic polls under the supervision of central forces. Dhankhar on Tuesday said he has assured the BJP delegation of taking up with the SEC.
In a letter to the governor, the BJP referred to the precedent in 2013 when the SEC had approached the Supreme Court for deployment of central forces in municipal polls, while the West Bengal government was in favour of holding the polls under the supervision of state police. In a dig at the BJP's demand, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, "Thousands of central paramilitary force personnel were deployed during the last assembly polls in the state and the Trinamool Congress secured 213 seats. Our tally went up to 217 after the TMC won in subsequent by-elections and elections." The BJP may want central forces but that will not change the slide in its fortunes, Ghosh claimed.