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Only central forces to provide security to polling stations in Bengal

The EC has been boosting the deployment of central forces in polling stations in Bengal in a graded manner since the elections began on April 11.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 01, 2019 11:16 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Lok Sabha elections 2019,General elections 2019,Election news
Security personnel at the scene of a clash during the 2nd phase of Lok Sabha elections, in North Dinajpur district of West Bengal on April 18. (PTI)

The Election Commission on Tuesday decided to conduct the fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal under the vigil of Central security forces, officials said.

“Only Central forces personnel would be deployed at the polling stations on the remaining fifth, sixth and seventh phases. State police personnel would not be allowed at the polling stations,” said an officer attached to the chief electoral officer, (CEO) West Bengal, requesting anonymity.

The Election Commission has also directed the chief electoral officer to provide security cover by Central forces to ten Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates to prevent repeat of an assault after the vehicle of BJP candidate and Union minister Babul Supriya was damaged in Asansol on Monday.

Polling will take place in 13,290 polling stations on May 6. There are 15,428 and 17,042 polling stations in the sixth and seventh phases of polling in Bengal respectively.

“In the fifth phase, polling would be held in in seven Lok Sabha constituencies. According to our estimate, 580 companies will be adequate. However, if necessary, additional companies would be deployed,” the official said.

The EC has boosted the deployment of central forces in polling stations in Bengal in a graded manner. While central forces were deployed in 50% of the polling stations in the first phase, it was raised to 80% in the second phase. It was further increased to 90% in the third phase and finally to 98.8% in the fourth phase on Monday.

BJP Bengal unit’s vice president Jay Prakash Majumdar welcomed the move which was a long standing demand of the party. “We welcome the decision. But at the same time, we urge ECI to use central forces more effectively in area dominance, so that voters cannot be intimidated by the ruling party goons,” he said.

However, state food and supplies minister, Jyoti Priya Mallick said that Trinamool Congress is not worried at all by such decisions of the poll panel. “Ultimately, people of Bengal will vote. They have full confidence on chief minister Mamata Banerjee. We are confident of winning in all the 42 constituencies in the state,” said Mallick.

Leaders of opposition parties have alleged that trouble has been noticed mostly in polling stations guarded by central forces.

(With agency inputs) 

First Published: Apr 30, 2019 22:49 IST