Bengal opposition demands central forces for Panchayat polls

Kolkata, May 17 (IANS) Opposition parties in West Bengal Friday demanded deployment of central paramilitary forces in an all-party meeting convened by the State Election Commission to ensure proper, free and fair panchayat elections.

“We need adequate protection for candidates and the voters though every state of the polls – filing of nomination, campaigning, polling day as also counting. The ground situation is not conducive for that. In various local elections across the state, our candidates are not being even allowed to file nominations,” said Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretariat member Rabin Deb after the meeting.

“Morever, there is lot of unrest. There is violence among Trinamool activists. For free and fair elections, the SEC must look into this aspect with utmost care. There should be adequate protection for opposition candidates, workers and voters at every stage of the polling process. Central forces are needed. State forces cannot ensure foolproof protection,” he added.

To buttress his point, Deb referred to the deployment of central forces during the by-polls to three assembly seats Feb 23.

“When three assembly by-polls could not be completed by using only state armed police personnel, how can one hope to ensure proper Panchayat polls by not deploying central forces?”

Senior state Congress leader Manas Bhuniya alleged law and order has deteriorated in the districts. “In the 2011 assembly elections people have seen how a combination of state police and central forces ensured the maximum protection for all candidates, workers and voters.”

“Our main demand is protection should be fool-proof. There should be adequate protective machinery in the booths, intense police patrolling from the start of nomination filing to the counting. In sensitive areas there should be strong protective measures in place”.

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