statesman news service
KOLKATA, 14 JUNE: Despite a clear directive from the High Court on the deployment of security forces for the upcoming panchayat polls, the state government is sitting idle, saying that they were waiting for a fresh communique from the State Election Commission (SEC).
This is even as state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said today that the government is not going to challenge the High Court&’s ruling in the Supreme Court.
“The state government will not appeal against the High Court or in any court,” said Mr Mukherjee at Writers’ Buildings, adding that elections would be held according to the schedule. He, however, refused to address the issue of deployment of forces.
Mr Mukherjee today held a meeting with his departmental secretary this morning followed by a meeting with chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee. State law minister Mrs Chandrima Bhattacharya was also present at the meeting which lasted for more than an hour.
A Division Bench of Calcutta High Court yesterday upheld the supremacy of the SEC in holding the panchayat elections in the state. “We have already informed the court about the total strength of security forces that are available for deployment in the first phase of polls. It is for the SEC to take a call as to how the polls are to be held with the existing number of forces. The government will act as per the commission’s directive and if required we will yet again inform about our shortfall,” said a minister.
For the time being, the state government is neither writing to the Centre renewing its earlier demand for 300 companies of forces as suggested by Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, nor approaching any other state. The government has written to Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha for providing forces and it is expected that Punjab will provide forces but till now none has sent any formal approval.
Sources at Writers’ Buildings feel the impasse over deployment of forces continues because in case the commission decides to further increase the number of phases in which the rural polls are to be held ~ the only possible option to hold polls with the existing numbers of security personnel at the state government’s disposal ~ but the government rejects it, either of the two parties may move court.
The state government had earlier stressed on holding the elections in a single phase and only after much acrimony agreed to hold it in three phases. Officials are apprehensive whether the government will agree to a move to further split up the elections.
Meanwhile, state home secretary Basudeb Banerjee today said the Centre will provide six additional companies of paramilitary force for deployment in the Junglemahal area in the wake of yesterday’s Maoist attack on a train in Bihar. Earlier the Centre had sent 39 companies of paramilitary forces for the Junglemahal area.