Manning the booths on polling day is simply not enough. Rather, central forces should patrol different neighbourhoods across the state for at least a month. This is what opposition leaders of Bengal are going to demand when chief election commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi comes to Kolkata on Thursday to discuss preparations for the next Assembly election due in May next year.
Some opposition leaders told HT that they are going to give Zaidi a list of names of police superintendents, district magistrates and inspectors in charge of police stations “who have displayed extraordinary subservience to the ruling party”. They will plead with the CEC that such officers and bureaucrats are removed from their duty well before the polls.
“We will leave no stone unturned to ensure free and fair polls under the Election Commission of India. A list of officials and police officers who have acted Trinamool Congress cadres will be submitted to the CEC,” BJP national general secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said.
Veteran Congress leader Abdul Mannan, who doggedly pursued the Saradha chit fund case till the Supreme Court handed over the investigation to the CBI, said, “We will name those administrative and police officers who work for the ruling party. Bharati Ghosh, the SP of West Midnapore, is one such officer.”
Manas Bhuniya, former state Congress president, told HT, “The central forces are required in front of the houses of voters in villages and towns. They should also be there on the streets and inside polling stations.”
The BJP, along with the Congress and the CPI(M), will tell the CEC that all local polls held in the state since 2011 have been held in the shadow of ‘terror unleashed by the ruling Trinamool Congress’. Leaders of these parties will also submit CDs of video recordings and newspaper clippings to Zaidi to buttress their views. A case in point will be the recent municipal polls, a CPI(M) leader said. CPI(M) leaders called on the state election commissioner on Tuesday to enquire about the progress made by him and his officers on the basis of the complaints lodged by the party on the anomalies in the Salt Lake and Asansol civic polls held in October.
Rabin Deb, state secretariat member of CPI(M), said, “Our appeal will be simple. The Election Commission of India will have to ensure free and fair polls. We have seen the scale of violence in the civic polls in Salt Lake very recently. How can there be a peaceful election under this administration and police?”