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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Kolkata votes today, poll panel says all in place for free and fair election

As many as 1,139 booths of the city have been identified as 'sensitive'.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: December 19, 2021 4:22:23 am
kolkata, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, kmc election, Kolkata, Kolkata news, Indian express, Indian express newsAccording to police sources, sensitive booths have been identified in 16 boroughs of Kolkata municipality area. (File)

WITH THE Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) set to go to the polls on Sunday, the State Election Commission (SEC) has laid down a set of rules for all political parties as well as the police. The commission has emphasised that the polls would be “free and fair”and also warned of stern action if rules are violated.

As many as 1,139 booths of the city have been identified as ‘sensitive’. According to police sources, sensitive booths have been identified in 16 boroughs of Kolkata municipality area. A total of 4,959 polling booths have been set up in 144 wards of the state capital. The most number of sensitive booths are in borough number seven: 250 booths.
Last-minute preparations are underway and 16 DCRCs have been opened for 144 wards in Kolkata. There are 6,570 EVMs for 4,959 booths. Voting will be held in 1,776 polling stations.

Meanwhile, the Calcutta High Court has directed the SEC to install closed circuit cameras in all booths in Kolkata. The SEC has practically failed to provide so many CCTV cameras and is now looking to source more CCTV cameras. A division bench of the High Court on Tuesday directed that CCTV cameras should be installed in all booths in Kolkata. The next day, the SEC informed it that they are ready and CCTV cameras will be installed in all the booths. However, a senior official of the commission said, “It is a tough job to install CCTV cameras in every booth. In many booths, there are no electric systems to install such cameras. In many cases, we have to change the room or the place and design of the booths.”
Since Friday afternoon, the administration has imposed section 144 within 200 metres of all booths. The commission instructed the police to take action against miscreants. The SEC also banned motorcycle rallies and gatherings.

The commission has said that all political figures, along with state or central government security guards, cannot stay outside the polling booths. Anybody can go to the designated polling station on the day of polling. They have to leave the booth after casting their vote. Security personnel will not have access to the polling station.

Even as the ruling TMC has said the election would be “free and fair,” opposition parties have questioned the claim.

On Saturday, some miscreants allegedly hurled a bomb at the residence of Tanima Chattopadhyay, sister of late minister Subrata Mukherjee. It is alleged that the three miscreants — who have “TMC links” — came by motorcycle. Trinamool candidate Sudarshana Mukherjee however, termed the allegations as “false.”

Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari warned that Kolkata would be shut down if BJP candidates are attacked on election day. The CPM also alleged that at some places, their candidates and polling agents were attacked by “TMC supporters.” CPM leader Rabin Dev claimed, “In many places in Kolkata, the TMC is bringing in people from outside and gathering illegally. We told the SEC but they are not taking proper action. However, TMC Secretary General Partha Chaterjee said, “They realised that they will be defeated. Now, they are trying to make false allegations.”

On Friday, Kolkata Police Commissioner Somen Mitra, DG of West Bengal Police Manoj Malviya and Home Secretary B P Gopalika met State Election Commissioner Sourav Das. Sources said during a two-hour meeting, they discussed security arrangements. Later in the day, Mitra visited some places in central Kolkata to check the security arrangements.

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