Kolkata: West Bengal State Election Commission on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with the state government’s security plan for the panchayat election, and Calcutta High Court wondered how it could stop the process if the panel has no complaint. The court is scheduled to pronounce on Thursday its verdict.
The government submitted its security plan to a division bench headed by Chief Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya as another bench led by Justice Subrata Talukdar had ordered that the polls could be held on May 14 – the state election commission has fixed the date – only after “judicial approval” that would follow an examination of the security arrangements.
“We will deploy 71,500 armed forces for the panchayat polls. The state has an armed force of 61,500 and we will get another 10,000 from other states,” said advocate-general Kishor Dutta. He explained that the forces at Bengal’s disposal included policemen, forest guards and excise personnel before adding that around 80,000 constables and civic volunteers would also be pressed in for poll duty.
Sources in the election commission and the government said that with just four days to go after Thursday, holding the polls on Monday would be easier said than done as forces had to be mobilised and logistics finalised.
Earlier in the day, another high court order – from a division bench headed by Justice Biswanath Somadder – added to the poll panel’s challenges after it was directed to accept for scrutiny 831 nominations filed online by CPM candidates.
With the increase in the number of nominees, the poll panel has to start several things afresh, from drawing up the list of candidates to declaring hitherto uncontested victories null and void. Amid the uncertainty on the rural poll date, all eyes were on the Courtroom No. 1 on the first floor of Calcutta High Court.