Full EC bench in Bengal to take stock of poll preparedness, law and order
The full bench of the Election Commission of India (EC) would be camping in West Bengal over the next two days to take stock of the preparedness, and law and order situation in the poll-bound eastern state.
The poll panel, headed by chief election commissioner Sunil Arora and election commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar landed in Kolkata on Wednesday afternoon.
“On Thursday, the EC bench is scheduled to hold meetings with representatives of political parties, central and state regulatory agencies and senior IAS and IPS officers. On Friday, the bench will hold a meeting with the state’s chief secretary, home secretary and director general of police,” said a top official of the state government.
This is the first time that the full bench of the poll panel has come to the state ahead of the crucial assembly elections. Earlier, deputy election commissioner Sudeep Jain had visited the state twice to take stock of the situation.
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With the assembly election approaching, the political temperature is rising in West Bengal. While verbal duels are continuing between leaders of the two political parties every day, incidents of political clashes are also being reported from across the state.
“The poll panel has already asked for regular reports of law and order situation in the state, including status of non-bailable arrest warrants and seizure of illegal arms and ammunitions, from the administration. A stern warning has also been sent out to officials that the EC won’t tolerate any dereliction of duty,” said a senior official of the poll panel.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has already raised demands of enforcing the Model Code of Conduct and deployment of Central Armed Police Forces in the state at the earliest, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has said that law and order is a state subject and Central forces can only be deployed after elections are announced.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has also repeatedly expressed his concern over violence in the state and has, on many occasions, alleged that the law and order situation in the state has deteriorated. The TMC, however, has refuted the charges every time.
Before coming to West Bengal, the ECI bench had gone to Assam, another state where elections are scheduled around the same time.
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- The opposition leader is also scheduled to meet senior TMC minister Firhad Hakim and hold talks about the upcoming Bengal polls.
- TMC and BJP have dismissed the Left rally as insignificant. While the TMC claims CM Mamata Banerjee will return to power for the third time, BJP says the elections are bi-polar and there is no space for the Left.
- The BJP lodged a complaint in the Phoolbagan police station. Senior BJP leaders of the state rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation.
- The TMC asked the EC why the polls could not be held in fewer phases.
- She alleged that the poll panel scheduled the election dates keeping in mind the BJP’s demands.
- The CBI earlier questioned Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee in the case.
- Besides rallies, the chief minister’s itinerary could include religious stopovers at important places of worship.
- "Modi government only makes false promises, has done nothing to bring down fuel prices," PTI quoted the Bengal chief minister as saying.