As many as 324 companies of central forces will be deployed during the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Bengal. It is nearly four times more than the total number of forces deployed during the first phase.
The central forces manned around 80 per cent of the booths in the second phase, while in the next phase it will keep vigil at over 90 per cent booths.
“In total, 324 companies will be deployed in the third phase of the elections,” Vivek Dube, Special Police Observer told The Indian Express.
Special Observer for Bengal Ajay V Nayak also confirmed that 90 per cent of the polling booth will be manned by the central forces. According to sources, earlier, the plan was to deploy 274 companies of central forces. Following a high-level meeting with of police observers, it was decided that an additional 50 companies of central forces would be operational for the third phase.
“In the first phase held in Cooch Behar and Alipurduar on April 11, there were only 83 companies, which could cover only 50 per cent of the booths. In the second phase on April 18 in Darjeeling, Raiganj and Jalpaiguri, 194 companies were deployed, which monitored close to 80 per cent of the booths. In the third phase on April 23 for Malda North, Malda South, Jangipur, Murshidabad and Balurghat, there will be nearly 324 companies covering more than 90 per cent of the booths,” said an EC official.
Delegations from Congress, BJP and the Left parties had approached the Election Commission on Thursday, detailing various irregularities and incidents of violence that took place during the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections in the state and demanded deployment of more central forces for the subsequent rounds.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission on Friday said West Bengal recorded a polling percentage of 81.68 in the second phase held on Thursday. Voters exercised their franchise in three constituencies — Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Raiganj. The Commission officials said the second phase of polling had concluded successfully.
Jalpaiguri recorded 86.44 per cent of polling, Darjeeling recorded 78.60 per cent of voting and Raiganj recorded 79.35 per cent of voting. As many as 101 out of 5,390 booths were operated only by female poll personnel during the second phase.
However, several incidents of violence were reported in the three constituencies.
On Friday, CPI(M) candidate from Raiganj, Md Salim, wrote a letter to the returning officer of Uttar Dinajpur district of Bengal, seeking a repoll at 23 booths. In the letter, Salim has said repoll was needed at 15 booths in the Islampur Assembly seat and five booths in the rest of Islampur, and one booth each at Goalpokhar, Hemtabad and Raniganj Assembly constituencies. He also wrote in the letter that he had been attacked in Islampur on Thursday.
A total of 37 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bengal will go to polls in the remaining five phases starting from April 23 and concluding on May 19.
There will be a total number of 8,528 polling stations in the five constituencies that will vote on April 23.