statesman news service
KOLKATA, 1 JUNE: In the wake of complaints on the recent incidents of political violence during the filing of nomination papers, the state government will write to the State Election Commission (SEC) on the measures taken up to tackle the situation, and has urged police officers to increase vigilance in nine districts, including the Maoists-dominated one, going for the first phase of panchayat polls.
State Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra, Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee and ADG (law and order) Banibrata Basu today held a video-conference with the district magistrates (DMs) and superintendents of police (SPs) of all the nine districts. The meeting comes amidst controversy over whether the district administrations will be under control of the state government or the SEC during the polls.
According to sources, the SPs of the Maoist-dominated districts were asked to intensify their vigil and to keep a watch on their activities following the Maoist attack in Chattisgarh. The government has also urged officials to ensure that nominations are filed by all the candidates. In fact, police officers have been asked to lay stress on area domination to intensify vigil not only around the polling booths and around the residences of the candidates but during the poll campaigns.
If dearth in security forces is seen as a problem then candidates may be asked to assemble at a specific location and then taken to the SDO office. The SEC has already decided to accept nominations in SDO offices and for blocks from East Midnapore, South 24-Parganas, Hooghly and Burdwan, which have witnessed political violence in the first two days of the nomination process.
They said at Writers’ Buildings today that stray incidents of violence are being reported from all districts. Police have been asked to keep a check on the assembling of outsiders in front of BDO and SDO offices as well.
Three thousand and five hundred security forces have been deployed for the nomination process against the requirement of 15,000 forces as directed by the SEC. The commission had earlier directed for deployment of forces at the 210 offices of the BDOs during filing of the nominations.
Meanwhile, the Trinamul Congress’s criticism of the SEC was echoed by the state unit of the BJP, but in a different context today. Lambasting the SEC, state BJP chief Rahul Sinha strongly criticised the commission’s decision to let rural poll candidates collect and submit their nomination papers in the offices of the sub-divisional officers all over Burdwan, Panskura in Midnapur (east), Canning and Bhangar in South-24-Parganas and Haripal in Hooghly. It appears that other than these areas, peace has prevailed in the remaining state, Mr Sinha said. But the commission seems to be unaware that the run-up to the rural polls is marred by certain incidents of violence.
The notification of letting candidates of some areas file nomination in the SDO’s offices is a sign of the commission’s irresponsibility, Mr Sinha alleged. He said the commission should reconsider its decision and let candidates file nominations at the offices of district magistrates, sub-divisional officers and block development officers. If the spate of violence continues, BJP candidates who could not file their nominations will gherao the commission’s office, he said.