The Trinamool Congress on Saturday sent a letter to the Election Commission of India, demanding the removal of its special observer for the state for comparing the situation in West Bengal today to what it was in Bihar 10 years ago.
Speaking to reporters at the Chief Electoral Office in Kolkata, Ajay V Nayak, a 1984-batch IAS officer of the Bihar cadre who was recently sent to the state to oversee the last five phases of polling, said, “The condition in West Bengal is quite similar to what it was in Bihar around 10 to 15 years ago. During that time in Bihar, total deployment of Central forces at the booths was required. Now it is required in West Bengal as the people of West Bengal have lost faith in the state police…”
Speaking in the presence of state Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab, Nayak went on to say, “People in Bihar wanted change and now, the state needs only 20 per cent deployment of Central forces… Then why is this not happening in West Bengal?”
Malda North, Malda South, Jangipur, Murshidabad and Balurghat are set to vote in the third phase of elections on April 23, for which 324 companies of Central forces would be deployed to cover 92 per cent of the booths, Nayak said. The is nearly four times the personnel deployed during the first phase of election on April 11. “We wanted to cover 100 per cent (deployment in the third phase) but it is not good for democracy. Adequate forces will be deployed,” he said.
However, hours later, as his remarks stirred up a row, Nayak told reporters he was “happy with the way things are improving” in the state.
“Bengal is also progressing on the positive side. Things are improving in terms of election management. As far as overall process of conducting elections are concerned, it is definitely on the mend. I am sure by the next parliamentary elections, the state will not require deployment of Central paramilitary forces in such large numbers. Bengal’s elections are going to be absolutely peaceful and fair, especially now that we have Central forces in more than 92 per cent of the polling stations… We don’t expect any kind of trouble in the next phase of elections,” he said.
Click here for more election news
In its letter to the Election Commission of India, the party accused Nayak of acting in a partisan manner. “We have reasons to believe that Nayak has started acting in a partisan manner, with pre-conceived notions, to destablise the conduct of the elections in the state in a free and fair manner by creating a fear psychosis among the electorate,” reads the letter signed by Trinamool general secretary Subrata Bakshi.
The letter alleged that the appointment of a retired officer, and not a serving officer, as special observer was in violation of provisions of the Representation of the People Act. While seeking Nayak’s recall, the Trinamool Congress letter said, “The ECI as a constitutional body should not be a party to such partisan statements made by the Central Observer and should not allow him to continue to act as political mouthpiece.”
Meanwhile, the Election Commission of India on Saturday transferred Malda Superintendent of Police Arnab Ghosh and brought Ajoy Prasad, Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion of the State Armed Police, in his place.
Two days after a West Bengal nodal election officer went missing in Nadia district, his wife wrote a Facebook post dismissing “rumours of personal issues”. Nadia Deputy Collector Arnab Roy was reported missing while on duty in Ranaghat. “We have no personal issues and are a very happily married couple… All I want is my husband to be back,” his wife Anish Jash wrote on Facebook.