The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday requested the Election Commission of India to declare West Bengal a “critical and vulnerable state”, and demanded that only central observers be appointed at all booths to ensure free and fair polling during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, The Economic Times reported.
A four-member state BJP delegation, led by senior leaders Mukul Roy and Om Pathak, met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora in Kolkata during the day. They cited incidents of violence during the panchayat elections last year and the number of seats that went uncontested.
“The bureaucracy and state employees, for a variety of reasons, have become subservient to the ruling party negating the very doctrine of impartiality and fairness towards all,” the BJP leaders alleged. “The entire state has to be declared critical and vulnerable and hence only Central Armed Police Force be deployed in all polling stations and villages or localities they serve.’
The saffron party claimed that the violence during the rural polls created “a severe and pervasive sense of fear” among voters in the state, IANS reported.
The BJP also raised doubts about the state’s chief electoral officer and alleged that the office had come “under a cloud of doubts about its functioning in a fair and transparent manner”.
The party urged the poll panel to appoint a senior officer from the Indian Adminstrative Services from outside West Bengal as chief state observer to oversee and supervise the chief electoral officer. “Such an observer be invested with such special powers of review so as to ensure that there is a level playing field for all parties,” the party added.
State BJP General Secretary Sayantan Basu, who was a part of the delegation, said the party submitted all relevant documents, photographs and CDs to the Election Commission. The party also expressed concern about “political obstruction” in organising programmes in the state.
“Mamata Banerjee’s government in West Bengal is apparently leading no stone unturned to jinx every effort taken by us to organise any political event,” Basu claimed. “Starting from not allowing permission for the rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah ji, the choppers carrying VVIP leaders and central ministers are not allowed to land at times. We mentioned all these issues before the commission.”
Three people were reportedly injured in violence in East Midnapore district after BJP President Amit Shah held a rally there on January 29. The saffron party claimed the ruling Trinamool Congress was responsible for the arson and vandalism.
The full bench of the Election Commission arrived in Kolkata on Wednesday to review the state’s preparedness for the Lok Sabha elections. Members of the Congress and the Left have also met the commission, News18 reported. All the Opposition parties have demanded that CCTV cameras be installed at all polling booths and the footage be made public.