Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora interacts with the media at the Oberoi Grand in Kolkata on Friday. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO).
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora interacts with the media at the Oberoi Grand in Kolkata on Friday. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO).

‘Zero tolerance for misuse of money and muscle power’: EC in poll-bound Bengal

  • The ECI’s full bench comprising the CEC and election commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar were in West Bengal on a two-day visit to take stock of the poll preparedness and law and order situation ahead of the crucial assembly polls scheduled to be held this year.
By HT Correspondent | Edited by Sohini Sarkar
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 10:06 PM IST

The Election Commission of India has zero tolerance towards misuse of money power, muscle power and state machinery, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said on Friday.

The poll panel also said that central forces would be deployed in West Bengal ahead of the crucial 2021 assembly polls as per the ECI’s final assessment and that the forces would work in close coordination with the state police.

“The Commission has zero tolerance about misuse of money power, muscle power and government machinery. I am not denying that incidents don’t happen despite the commission makings such statements. But whenever incidents have come to our notice we try to move very swiftly,” Arora told the media in Kolkata.

The ECI’s full bench comprising the CEC and election commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar were in West Bengal on a two-day visit to take stock of the poll preparedness and law and order situation ahead of the crucial assembly polls scheduled to be held this year.

On Thursday, meetings were held with political parties and senior IAS and IPS officers of the state, while the ECI met the state's chief secretary, home secretary and DGP on Friday before flying back to Delhi.

The ECI also said that election expenditure would be closely monitored so that money power doesn’t vitiate a level playing field.

“We have decided to send a special expenditure observer to West Bengal and Assam apart from a special police observer and general observer. We feel that in more than one way there are kinds of possibilities of money power being misused in most states these days,” he added

The poll panel also said that volunteers of the civic police and green police would be excluded from the election process.

“We also heard from political parties something about civic police and green police in West Bengal. Without going into the merits of such force our own belief as commission is that anybody who is given even a semblance of uniform, in one way or the other, assumes a position of authority. We have taken a cast-iron assurance from the chief secretary and the DGP that civic police shall not be used in any work related to polling,” Arora said.

Referring to Trinamool Congress' (TMC) allegation that the Border Security Force (BSF) is coercing voters to favour one party, the ECI said that the remark was “unfortunate”.

It also said, “Home ministry doesn’t have unlimited central forces. Internal security also demands engagement of central forces in many places. There are 23 companies already deployed in West Bengal in some sensitive areas. We will deploy as much as we can,” he added.


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