The confusion over the availability of central forces is likely to be cleared as the Union home ministry has decided to send an officer on special duty (OSD) to West Bengal.
OSD Anil Goswamiis will arrive in Kolkata on Thursday. He would meet governor MK Narayanan and chief minister Mamata Banerjee, state chief secretary Sanjay Mitra, state home secretary Basudeb Bandopadhyay, Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee and other senior officials.
According to sources, since Mamata is blaming the Centre for lack of forces, the Centre has decided to send an emissary to stop such criticism. On Tuesday, the home ministry insisted the Centre could not spare additional forces for panchayatpolls. Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had declared last week that he had asked the chief ministerto send a formal proposal for additional forces. “I’ve already instructed the home secretary to give the forces,” Shinde had said on June 11.
Soon after the public commitment, the home ministry started working on a plan to send 40-50 companies of the central police forces for the panchayat polls. But, on Tuesday, a senior home ministry official said there was neither any need to send forces, nor a formal request from the state government.
“We don’t provide central forces to any state for local body polls,” the home ministry official said, adding, that all central forces except the training reserves, maintained to give jawans and officers a break from active duty and for training, were completely deployed. Already, about 42 companies of the central police forces are deployed in Bengal for anti-Naxal operations.
A paramilitary officer added that the Centre’s decision appeared to be in line with the reluctance of the political executive in the state to deploy anymore forces than absolutely necessary. “In anycase, the number of central forces that can be spared by the home ministry won’t be anywhere close to the exaggerated requirement projected by the state election commission,” he said.