Panchayat elections in West Bengal sank deeper into uncertainty on Monday with the State Election Commission telling the Calcutta High Court that without adequate security forces it cannot hold the polls.
The Centre has also expressed its inability to spare central forces for the polls owing to commitments in rain- devastated Uttarakhand, apart from other exigencies.
The SEC told a division bench comprising Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalyo Bagchi that availability of forces from the state government was "hopelessly inadequate" and asserted that it cannot take the responsibility of holding the elections without adequate forces.
SEC counsel S Pal submitted that the state government had given repeated assurances since the high court's order of June 14 to the state to provide adequate forces as per requirement of the commission but has failed to do so in real terms.
Pal said he felt that there was a deliberate plan not to hold the elections.
He also questioned the Centre's alibi for not providing the central armed police force claiming that it has to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Appearing for the central government, counsel S S Sarkar submitted that owing to the massive natural calamity in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh for which central forces were being used for rescue and relief operations and other reasons, it would not be possible for the Centre to spare its forces.
He stated that central forces were also in deployment for Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir, to tackle militancy in Assam, law and order problem owing to Telangana agitation in Andhra Pradesh and anti-Maoist operations in different states.
Sarkar submitted that holding of local polls was a state responsibility and that central forces were not used for that purpose.
He also claimed that the state government has a large number of forces of its own, including 42 battalions of CAPF, two of IRB and 20 battalions of State Armed Police, which can be used for the purpose of peaceful conduct of elections.