FIVE SPECIAL teams, led by chief electoral officers of different states, on Friday started a five-day visit to the districts of West Bengal to undertake a comprehensive review of poll preparedness.
Deputy CEO Amitjyoti Bhattacharya said the teams have started arriving in the districts. “They will see the overall poll preparedness till March 22,” he added.
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The CEOs — V K Singh of Punjab, Anil Kumar Jha of Karnataka, Narinder Chauhan of Himachal Pradesh, Nidhi Chibber of Chhattisgarh and Dr Chandra Bhushan Kumar of Delhi — have been assigned different districts for monitoring work. The teams will submit their report on March 23.
Each of the five teams will have five members comprising the CEO of a state, a joint or deputy CEO, an IPS officer and two Election Commission (EC) officers.
Referring to media reports that it was the first time special teams had been deployed to ensure that polls are conducted in free and fair manner, the CEO, in a press statement, said: “The EC has been sending teams to different states during Assembly and Lok Sabha elections based on the need in consultation with the chief electoral officers of the state.”
On Thursday, the EC had removed 37 officials, including a district magistrate and four superintendents of police, following complaints from Opposition parties.
The first phase of the six-phased Assembly polls in the state will be held on April 4 and 11. Friday was the last day of filing nominations for the 18 seats in the districts of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura which will go to polls in first part of first phase.
In all, 138 candidates have filed their papers which includes 18 from Trinamool Congress, 11 from CPM, five from BSP, one each from CPI and Forward Bloc, 56 from other parties and 18 independents. Another 23 candidates, however, have filed their papers saying they are from BJP. “Some of them will either withdraw their candidature or their nominations will get rejected,” the EC official said when asked how 23 nominees from the party have filed papers from 18 seats. Scrutiny of papers will be done on Saturday and the last date for withdrawal of candidature is March 21.
Meanwhile, the EC is sending central awareness observers in each of the districts (see box). Headed by senior IIS officers, their task will be to monitor the overall voter awareness programmes being taken by the districts.