Updated: January 22, 2021 5:07:50 am
West Bengal Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim on Thursday alleged that the Border Security Force (BSF) was terrorising people in the border areas into voting for the BJP in the upcoming Assembly Election.
The TMC government raised the issue with the Election Commission (EC) during an all-party meeting at Grand Hotel in Kolkata on Thursday.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh alleged that in some areas, the names of Rohingya refugees had been added to the electoral rolls and asked Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora to look into the issue.
“The BJP says lakhs of Rohingya have entered the voters’ list, but the list has been prepared by the EC. This means the BJP is accusing the election body. We told the EC to check the BJP’s efforts to spread communal hatred in Bengal,” said Hakim.
The meeting was attended by TMC leaders Hakim, Subrata Bakshi, Subrata Mukherjee and Partha Chatterjee; CPI-M leaders Rabin Deb and Samik Lahiri, and CPI leader Prabir Deb; Congress leader Soumya Aich Roy; and BJP leaders Dilip Ghosh, Mukul Roy, Shishir Bajoria and Swapan.
“It is the duty of the Election Commission to ensure that people vote without fear. It is important the Central forces are deployed here soon. We are certain that the names of Rohingya have been included in the voter lists in border areas. This should be looked into,” Ghosh said after the meeting.
He said the Election Commission had arrived with its entire team to ensure that people in the state can freely exercise their voting rights.
Replying to Ghosh’s Rohingya remarks, Hakim said the allegation was an insult to the EC and claimed that the BSF was forcing voters to favour a certain political party.
“The BJP is sending the BSF to villages in border areas in West Bengal and terrorising people into voting for them. This is my allegation. The Election Commission said we would cross-check it,” Hakim said.
The BSF denied the allegation in a statement. “The BSF is a professional Border Guarding Force, which has in the past, and also in the present, guarded our international borders with total sincerity and dedication. We have actively checked on illegal infiltration and smuggling and brought criminals to book… The statements given by Sh Partho Chatterjee, Hon’ble Education Minister, and Mr Firhad Hakim, Rural and Development Minister of State of West Bengal, leveling allegations against the BSF is without any basis and far from any truth. The BSF stands firmly committed to its motto ‘Duty Unto Death’ at all times,” read the statement.
CPM leaders Rabin Dev and Samik Lahiri also claimed: “Many false names are in the list published by the Election Commission. So, the commission should properly audit the list before finalising it. We also stressed on a peaceful and fare election, and the Central forces should be properly used during election.”
CEC Arora arrived in West Bengal after visiting Assam on Wednesday. Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar are also assisting Arora as they reviewed preparations for the elections. Arora and his team also met Central and state officials.
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