statesman news service
KOLKATA, 17 JUNE: The State Election Commission (SEC) will approach Calcutta High Court tomorrow over the state government’s failure to confirm the availability of the required number of security forces for the upcoming panchayat polls and will seek the HC’s directive on its next course of action.
"On behalf of the SEC, we will make a Mention in the High Court tomorrow," the poll panel’s counsel Mr Laxmi Chand Behani said this evening but declined to share any further details. SEC officials remained tightlipped on the issue.
The development comes after senior state government officials, who were today summoned by the SEC to its office, failed to give any concrete details as to how the state would meet the shortfall in security personnel required for the three phase rural polls beginning 2 July. State Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra, Home Secretary Basudev Banerjee, Director General of Police Naparajita Mukherjee and Additional Director General (law and order) Banibrata Basu went to the SEC office at 4.55 p.m. and left after a 45-minute meeting with election commissioner Meera Pande.
The meeting was preceded by a fresh missive over security arrangement that the SEC sent to the state government this morning asking for an "immediate" reply. The government is yet to comply.
Ms Pande said in the evening that the poll panel was not satisfied with the response on security arrangements that the senior state government officials put forward in the afternoon meeting and added that the SEC would decide its next course of action "very shortly".
"Till today, the sate government is unable to state us as to how and wherefrom they will meet the shortfall in security. The 55,000-odd security personnel that the government is committing are not sufficient for holding the first phase polls.
In view of this the SEC will take a decision very shortly but we cannot discuss with the Press as what decision would be taken. The time left (for arranging security) is very short, " Ms Pande said, adding that the SEC stands by the security requirement that it had stated to the government earlier.
The requirement for armed security in the first phase is pegged at around 1.18 lakh; the state has only about 55,000-odd personnel of its own.
The commissioner also said the government has failed to provide security during the nomination phases as was asked for by the SEC and was also not providing required number of security for the ongoing campaign phase as well.