With less than a week left for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation polls, state BJP leaders still seem hopeful about the intervention of Central forces at the time of polling.
Repeating what he said a day before, party’s state president Rahul Sinha said at a protest rally against the alleged state-sponsored terrorism on Sunday: “I have had a word with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and he has assured about sending Central forces here.”
He added: “When even the State Election Commission (SEC) is sceptic about the law and order situation and wanted the Central forces to be deployed, it can be well imagined how the polls would be conducted with state forces.”
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Along with Sinha, senior Darjeeling MP S S Ahluwalia, singer-turned-Asansol MP Babul Supriyo, BJP national secretary and Bengal observer Siddharth Nath Singh, actors Rupa Ganguly and Locket Chatterjee walked from the BJP party office till Dorina Crossing in Esplanade.
Sinha also alleged that the state government had only partially disclosed the letter that the Centre had written to it regarding the deployment of Central forces for the polls. “They (state government) only said that the Centre had written that there would not be any Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) available for the polls. What they didn’t disclose was that the letter also said the CAPF which are in the state could be used for the polls,” Sinha claimed.
The BJP leader then pointed out how the TMC leaders have been declaring what number of seats the party would win in the upcoming polls. This, he said, “shows that the entire election has been pre-fixed”. “We would like to tell them to wait for few more days. There will be lotus everywhere,” he said.
Siddharth Nath Singh, too, earlier in the day said that a review was going on regarding the decision over Central forces. He also rebutted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was behind the CBI notices to the TMC, saying the probe agency was only doing its job.
Mamata had on Friday dared Modi to send her hundreds of CBI notices and alleged that BJP was trying to stifle Trinamool Congress’s voice for protesting against his “anti-people” policies including the Land Acquisition Bill.
Mamata had told an election rally that “whoever will speak against Narendra Modi, he will send the person a notice. It is his work. I am not afraid of him. I know how to fight.”
Singh also accused the TMC government of doing nothing for the state.
“Mamataji even failed to give her party’s proper accounting and audit report to the CBI. The auditor appears to be a non-functional one,” he said. Singh alleged that the TMC government was “unleashing a reign of terror before the civic polls and it is a TMC’s ploy to capture all seats without allowing opposition parties to contest.”
“Terror has no place in democracy. The law and order situation is in favour of the ruling party. But people will give a befitting reply in the election,” Singh said.
MP Supriyo said that he anticipates trouble and isn’t sure about a peaceful poll even if Central forces are deployed.
“The TMC has orchestrated violence and they would leave no stone unturned to rig ballot boxes. Even if Central forces arrived here, their deployment would depend upon the state government and just like we saw during the Lok Sabha elections, they could deploy the force at booths that are not sensitive and where there would be no violence at all,” he claimed.
Ahluwalia, on the other hand, was optimistic and said that in spite of all the violence “sponsored by TMC with help from the administration and the party’s action squad,” the results would be in BJP’s favour and “CM Mamata Banerjee would have to hide her face in shame and cry.”
A senior SEC official said there is no rule that the Central forces cannot come when required. “Just because the Centre has said they would not be able to send forces, it doesn’t mean they cannot at the last moment,” the official said.