Opposition parties unanimously called for central forces to be deployed in all polling booths by having them declared “sensitive”, at a high-level meeting held by the Election Commission (EC) in Kolkata on Saturday.
The meeting, held by Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain, was to review poll preparedness and examine the situation in the state. EC sources said representatives of nine parties were given time to meet the poll body officials individually. Opposition parties asked for central forces in large numbers, citing examples of violence during the panchayat elections. Sources said the BJP claimed 100 of its workers had died during the panchayat polls.
“We have again demanded that all booths should be declared ‘super sensitive’. We are hopeful that people of Bengal will be able to vote. TMC is afraid that if people vote freely, they will be defeated,” said BJP leader Mukul Roy.
Roy and fellow BJP leaders Shishir Bajoria and Jai Prakash Majumdar also told the EC that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had demanded that all booths be declared “sensitive” during the 2006 and 2011 elections.
Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee hit back, saying the BJP’s demand had insulted the people of the state.
“It is an insult for our state. We have requested for a free and fair election. In the past too, the Opposition had met the EC and had also approached court. They do all this to hide their own weaknesses… EC should look at everything impartially,” he said.
Congress leaders too demanded the deployment of central forces across Bengal.
“We want EC to declare all booths ‘sensitive’ and act accordingly… TMC is creating a sort of fear psychosis in the minds of voters, we want EC to take stern action,” said Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya.
CPM leaders said both TMC and BJP were trying to influence the EC for their own benefit. “On one hand BJP is trying to pressure EC, on the other hand TMC is sitting on dharna,” said Rabin Deb, CPM leader.