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Dearth of forces may extend poll period

delhi Updated: Feb 24, 2009 23:02 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times
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The elections for 15th Lok Sabha may be extended beyond four to five phases as the Election Commission and Home Ministry have failed to reach an agreement on number of security forces deployed for each phase.

Sources said the Commission officials were asking for at least the same number of security forces from the Central government as were deployed in 2004 general elections. Over 750 companies were deployed in the 2004 elections.

However, the Home Ministry — whose officials led by secretary Madhukar Gupta met the three elections commissioners on Wednesday — has expressed the government’s inability to spare the forces as sought by the Commission.

Sources in the Commission said heightened security threat after the Mumbai terror attacks, expansion of Naxal areas since 2004 elections and insurgency-related issues in J&K and North-East were cited as major reasons for not been able to provide adequate security forces for elections.

Around 100 seats will be going to polls in each phase to be held in April-May this year. But exact dates for elections are expected to be announced within a week after the Commission and Home ministry officials hold next round of negotiations to iron out the differences.

“We have had a detailed discussion about the force requirement. So, now it’s up to the Election Commission,” said Gupta, who was accompanied by Special Secretary (Internal Security) Raman Shrivastav on Tuesday.

The Commission also held discussions with Defence secretary Vijay Singh to find whether armed forces can spare personnel for the polls.