The Election Commission special observer, Ajay V Nayak Saturday said the 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.
The people of West Bengal have lost faith in the state police and therefore their demand for deployment of central forces at all polling booths has increased, Nayak, who is the former Bihar chief electoral officer, said.
Nayak, a 1984-batch IAS officer, was recently given the responsibility to oversee the last five phases of polls in West Bengal.
“This situation in West Bengal is similar to what it was in Bihar around 10 to 15 years ago. During that time in Bihar total deployment of central forces at the booths was required. Now it is required in West Bengal as the people of West Bengal have lost faith in the state police and are seeking deployment of central forces at all the booths,” he told reporters.
“I cannot understand that if people in Bihar were able to bring in a change in the atmosphere and situation there, then why this is not happening in West Bengal,” Nayak said in the presence of state Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab.
He said that in the third phase of polling on April 23, 324 companies of central forces would be deployed to cover more than 92 per cent of the polling booths in five Lok Sabha constituencies.
Balurghat, Malda North, Malda South, Jangipur and Murshidabad parliamentary constituencies will go to the polls on April 23.
Nayak, however, sounded hopeful that the state may require less central force by next Parliamentary elections.
In the first phase there were reports of booth capturing, smashing of EVMs and intimidation. Similar incidents were reported in the second phase from Chopra in Darjeeling constituency and also from Islampur in Raiganj constituency. There were also reports of damage to the vehicle of sitting CPI-M MP Mohammed Salim at Raiganj.
The special observer, however, did not dismiss chances of repolling in some booths where polling was held in the second phase.
TMC secretary general Subrata Bakshi wrote to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora demanding immediate removal of Nayak to ensure free and fair polls in the state.
Meanwhile, the EC has transfered Malda district Superintendent of Police Arnab Ghosh and has brought in commanding officer of the second battalion of state armed police Ajoy Prasad in his place.
Sources said Ghosh, who was reportedly close to the Trinamool Congress administration, was under the EC scanner.