Central armed forces personnel have arrived in West Bengal for the July 8 panchayat election. They will start conducting route marches from Saturday, as per State Election Commission (SEC) sources. A total of 337 companies of central armed forces have already reached the state. The SEC has requested 822 companies or around 82,200 central personnel of central armed forces for the rural civic body polls.
The available central forces personnel in the state are a mix of companies from Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Railway Protection Force (RPF). On Friday, the Additional Solicitor General Ashoke Kumar Chakrabory informed the court that the Union Home Ministry has no difficulty in deploying over 82,000 central armed forces personnel as sought by the West Bengal SEC.
However, some have questioned whether little over 82,000 personnel would be enough for a single-phase poll considering that the number of voters, districts, polling stations, and polling booths have increased considerably since 2013. Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari as well as CPI(M) central committee member Dr Sujan Chakraborty have raised this concern.
Route marches will start with the available personnel from Saturday only and as more companies turn up, they will be involved in the process. The SEC insisted by a division bench of the Calcutta High Court, has requested for more companies of central armed forces to help with the panchayat election.