First batch of central forces reaches Bengal for Assembly polls

Express News Service
KOLKATA: The first batch of 12 companies of central police force (CPF) personnel arrived in West Bengal on Saturday ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections.

Four companies have been deployed in Kolkata and its adjoining areas and rests sent to Birbhum, West Midnapore, and Jhargram.

Meanwhile, a delegation of BJP met the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Aariz Aftab and complained that the state government has planned deployment of the the central force in a manner that will serve the interest of the ruling party. They also alleged that the CPF personnel would not be sent to the areas which have witnessed widespread violence. The delegation also requested the CEO to convene an all-party meeting in this regard.

In the letter submitted to the CEO, the delegation said that contractual employees were registered at district level as Group-D staff to perform the work of the polling personnel which is illegal. They are not regular government employees and therefore, not answerable to anyone.

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“It has come to our notice that the state government has allocated CPF to various police districts in a manner that will serve the best interest of the party in power, without any regard to areas which have witnessed wide spread violence. There will no point served if CPF is made to make route marches in National and State Highways ad are kept away from sensitive areas,” said BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta.

The delegation demanded an all-party meeting. “In the interest of confidence-building among voters to ensure a free a fair poll, we request you to call the meeting at the earliest so that all the stake holders can give their suggestions for such deployment, area domination and confidence building,” Dasgupta wrote.

Sources in the Election Commission said more than 1,000 companies of CPF would be deployed in Bengal in this election. “In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, around 750 companies of CPF were engaged in Bengal election duty. This year, the number of booths would be more than one lakh (it was around 79,000 in previous elections) because of Covid-19 pandemic. Around 125 companies of CPF will arrive the state by the end of this month,” said an official of the commission.