Security a red or green herring?

  • Joydeep Thakur, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
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  • Updated: Jul 05, 2013 23:50 IST

Security - or the lack of it - holds the key to the West Bengal panchayat polls. It was not surprising that it led a huge legal battle. While the state held out as long as it could on its demand for deploying the state police, the state election commission pressed for central forces.

The government bargained for forces from neighbouring states and, as expected, got none from its eleventh-hour request. And when the state finally capitulated, the Centre failed to send paramilitary forces, citing the need for a renewed push to control the Maoists in the wake of the May 25 Chhattisgarh massacre.

After three months, the SC had the final say: Panchayat polls cannot be held without central armed forces.

Pre-poll violence has already claimed a dozen lives. But the new arrangement is expected to be better. The first and second phases will have 15,000 central forces, around 25,000 in the third and fourth phases.

 

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