Election Commission special observer, Ajay V Nayak on April 20 had said that the present situation in West Bengal is similar to what it was in Bihar around 10 to 15 years ago and had lead to the voters’ demand for deployment of central forces in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
West Bengal like Bihar 10 Yrs ago
The 1984-batch IAS officer was given the responsibility to oversee the last five phases of polls in West Bengal. Nayak, who is a former Bihar chief electoral officer said that citizens of the state have lost faith in the state police and therefore their demand for deployment of central forces at all polling booths has gone up. He told that the situation has improved in Bihar over the last few years as less number of central forces are required in polling booths there.
“I cannot understand that if people in Bihar were able to bring in a change in the atmosphere and situation there then why is this not happening in West Bengal,” Nayak said, reported Moneycontrol. Voting took place in five parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal during the third phase of elections on April 23.
He had reportedly said that in the third phase, 324 companies of central forces would be deployed to cover more than 92% of the polling booths in five Lok Sabha constituencies. In the first phase on April 11, central forces were deployed in 51% while 194 companies covered 80% booths in the second phase on April 18. Incidents of electoral malpractices like booth capturing, smashing of EVMs and intimidation were reported in the first and second phases from West Bengal. He did not do away with the chances of re-polling in some booths where voting were held during the second phase.
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“In terms of election management, things are improving in West Bengal. So I am sure by the time of next Parliamentary elections it will not require this kind of central force deployment. I am sure about that,” Nayak said.
TMC cries foul
However, after his remarks, the ruling Trinamool Congress demanded his immediate removal, and even indicated that Nayak has allegiance to the RSS and the BJP. Party supremo Mamata Banerjee accused the BJP of trying to run a parallel government in the state. “The officers are abusing and insulting the people of the state,” she alleged.
According to The Times Of India, Banerjee said that in 2016 Assembly elections, central forces were deployed in all booths, however, that did not stop TMC from registering a landslide victory. She even accused the Modi government of depriving West Bengal during the last five years.
However, it was only a year ago that multiple incidents of violence, ballot box tampering and booth lootings were reported from the Panchayat elections in West Bengal.