All booths in West Bengal where polling will be held in the first phase of the state elections are ‘sensitive and vulnerable’ and central forces will be deployed in all of them, the Election Commission said on Monday. The deployment of the CAPF will ensure that the people can exercise free and fair voting rights, a senior official of the CEO’s office said.
The EC will deploy at least 415 companies of CAPF for the first phase of the polling on March 27, he said.
According to the official, there has been a surge in violence in West Bengal since the past one year and the EC is worried about it.
“There have been incidents which are not conducive in conducting polls. But we are determined to conduct a free and fair election in West Bengal. All the observers have been asked to be strict in maintaining law and order,” he said.
During virtual meetings with senior polling officials held on Monday, special observer Ajay Nayak and police observer Vivek Dubey asked all the observers to be strict in maintaining law and order throughout the state.
“To conduct a peaceful election in West Bengal is our biggest challenge. All the booths are vulnerable and all the booths are sensitive. To ensure free and fair polling we have decided to have central forces in all the booths where voting will be held in the first phase on March 27,” the official said.
The EC is also mulling to deploy central forces within the 200 m periphery of the booths scheduled to have polling in the first phase of the election on March 27, he added.
For the first phase, the election will be held in 10,288 polling booths in 30 assembly constituencies spread over five districts.
The number of booths will be the highest in Purulia (3,127), followed by Purba Medinipur (2437), Paschim Medinipur (2089), and Bankura (1,328), the official said.
Following a complaint that pubs are open in the city and its neighbourhood though the election dates have been announced, the EC directed “immediate stop” to all forms of dance and musical programmes held there.
Special expenditure observer B Murali Kumar arrived on Monday and held several meetings with senior officials in the district here.