The Election Commission of India’s order — to keep the movement of central paramilitary forces and state police personnel under the purview of its observers — will be strictly followed in 2014, Vinod Zutshi, Deputy Election Commissioner, in-charge of West Bengal, said on Wednesday.
Zutshi, who came to Kolkata Wednesday, held meetings with first representatives of political parties, and then, district magistrates and superintendents of police.
Later in the day, the EC top official took stock of poll preparedness from Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee, IG (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma, Kolkata Police Commissioner Surojit Kar Purakayastha, and a few other officials.
“The EC order that movement of CPF and state police will be controlled by observers of the Commission will be strictly followed. No movement can take place without the permission of the observers,” Zutshi said at a press meet held after the meeting.
Political leaders apprised Zutshi of rampant violations of the EC order on movement of forces during the elections. Tapan Sikder, former union minister and leader of BJP delegation at the meeting, told The Indian Express: “The EC order is not implemented properly and there are a lot of manipulations by the ruling party. The official said the EC would see to it that the order is strictly implemented.”
It was during the panchayat elections that the deployment of central forces in West Bengal had become a bone of contention between the state government and the State Election Commission, with the latter wanting their deployment in all polling booths. The matter was finally settled by the Supreme Court.
In his meeting with the DMs and SPs, Zutshi expressed unhappiness over the large number of deaths (nearly 60) during the last year’s panchayat elections.
“The same set of people (DMs and SPs) are there. But the fact is while there was no violence during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and 2011 Assembly elections, so many deaths took place during the last year’s panchayat elections. I am baffled. How did it happen?” Zutshi asked the DMs and SPs.
He underlined that the upcoming Lok Sabha elections will have to be modelled on the 2009 and 2011 elections. “We are committed to creating a conducive environment for a free and fair election. The 2014 elections will be even better than the earlier elections,” the DEC said after the meeting.
The official said security of voters will have to be ensured at all costs.
He gave instructions to the state election officials to hold workshops with political parties on issues of implementation of the model of code of conduct, paid news, monitoring of expenditure, etc.
Zutshi left instructions that all such officials who have had a stint of more than three years at one place, will have to be transferred once the model code of conduct comes into force.