Another round of bout begins

SEC ‘ready to give up idea of holding polls’ if govt fails to satisfy security query

Written by Express News Service & PTI | Kolkata | Published:June 17, 2013 2:24 am

WIith two weeks to go for the first phase of the three-phase panchayat election,the State Election Commission on Sunday said it may give up the idea of holding the polls if the state government’s response to its query about the number of armed forces to be deployed for the first phase of election fails to satisfy them.

Unhappy over not getting any response to its earlier letters seeking clarification on the number of armed force personnel to be deployed in the nine districts where voting will be held for the three-tier panchayat system on July 2,the State Election Commission will be making a final pitch to the state government to come clean on its intention of holding free and fair polls.

Noting that there were not enough security forces during the filing of the nomination process,State Election Commissioner Meera Pandey on Sunday said the commission will be writing to the state government on Monday seeking a final clarification on the availability of forces as it is still in dark about the number of forces to be deployed. “After going through the state government’s reply,we shall decide what to do next- whether to inform the court about the entire matter or give up the idea of holding the election altogether,” Pandey said.

Making it clear that the gopvernment would be solely responsible in the advent of the election not being held as per schedule,Pandey said: “It was the state government which had planned the first phase poll in nine south Bengal districts together. So it is its responsibility to provide adequate forces to conduct the election freely and fairly. Let it arrange make the arrangements,” she added.

“If the panchayat election in West Bengal is not held on time despite frantic bid by the SEC,the government will remain responsible entirely,” she told the reporters.

“So we don’t know how things will go. Let us see what the state government says.”

The government,on the other hand,remained adamant about not seeking central forces. Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee reiterated that the panchayat elections will be held “on time and with the available forces”.

“We have to be satisfied with the forces available for the elections scheduled from July 2. There will not be any problem in conducting the panchayat polls,” he said.

When asked if the State Election Commission moved court on the adequate central forces issue,he said the state government never intended to do that.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on June 11 had said that the Centre would provide the required paramilitary forces to the state ahead of the panchayat polls,“but the state government must send a fresh proposal,” to which the state government is yet to respond.

Commerce and Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee,meanwhile,strongly criticised the opposition parties for making allegations about the deteriorating law and order in the state.

“We shall inform the SEC that it is nothing but a conspiracy by the CPM and Congress to malign the state government. The Marxists,too,are fighting among themselves and blaming the state government,” Chatterjee said.

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