Confusion Continues Over Central Force & Election Date

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Kolkata: Confusion over the quantum of forces available for deployment in the panchayat polls remained till late on Thursday evening as the Bengal government was yet to receive confirmation from other states on requisition for security personnel.

The ambiguity prevailed a day before Calcutta High Court will hold hearing on the availability of security forces for the rural polls. In the absence of confirmation letters from the states, the Bengal government and the election commission remained tight-lipped on the strategy they would adopt in the court on Friday.

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Sources said Nabanna had not received the confirmation letters from any of the four states from where armed forces were sought.

“At least four states – Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Odisha – had assured us that they would send forces, but no letters have reached us so far,” said a senior government official, expressing concern before the hearing.

The Bengal government and the state poll panel would have to satisfy the division bench headed by Chief Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya on security.

The fate of the polls scheduled for May 14 would depend on the security arrangements available, as the single-judge bench of the high court termed the date as “tentative” and asked the election commission to secure approval from the division bench to hold the voting on that day.

Sources said the letters from other states were a necessity to satisfy the court that there would be enough forces to guard the polling stations as well as premises. “The Bengal government would have to say that the states which were approached for forces have responded positively. The letters from other states could have made the case stronger for Bengal,” said a source.

The commission on Thursday asked police to report to it on action initiated against 4,500-odd complaints received, mostly from the Opposition, since the poll process began.

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