The Supreme Court’s notice to Bengal seeking its response on how to meet the requirement of security personnel to hold the rural polls has put the state in a fix. The Mamata Banerjee administration is clueless on how to arrange an adequate number of forces for a four-phase poll beginning July 2.
With chances of getting additional forces from elsewhere remote, the state can now conduct only the fourth phase on July 9 with adequate security cover. Around 37,000 personnel are needed for this phase which can be drawn from the state’s available strength of 48,000 personnel. The districts that go to the polls in the fourth phase are Cooch Behar, Jalpaihuri, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur.
For the first phase on July 2, about 64,000 personnel are needed. This translates into a shortfall of about 11,500 personnel considering that the state can use the 4,500 central forces deployed in Jangalmahal. East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia vote on July 2.
For the second phase on July 4, a total of 85,000 personnel are needed. This means a shortfall of 37,000 personnel as the central forces will not be available since they are deployed in the Maoist violence-hit areas. Burdwan, Howrah, Hooghly and the North and South 24Parganas vote in this phase.
For the third phase on July 6, the government needs to deploy 67,000 personnel. In this phase, there will be a shortfall of 19,000 personnel. A home department source said although the state government is still in talks with the other states for forces, no positive signs have emerged. “Even if we do get some at the last moment, the problem won’t be solved,” a state government official said.