Mamata, SEC spar over panchayat polls again

A face-off between the West Bengal government and the State Election Commission (SEC) is imminent, with the commission making it clear that panchayat elections will not be held without the deployment of central forces.

Though the commission agreed to the state government’s proposal to conduct the elections in two phases, it refused to give in on the security forces issue.

“The deployment of central forces is essential for conducting free and fair polls because they are tried and tested and they know how to handle critical situations. So if we are supposed to conduct impartial elections, then deployment of central forces is the only option,” a senior SEC official told Deccan Herald.

The commission had even written to the government, asking for 800 companies of central forces for the elections.

However, the Trinamool Congress strongly opposed deployment of paramilitary forces.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said: “Panchayat election was never held under the supervision of central forces in any state and there is no guarantee that 800 companies of central forces will be available. We don’t agree if anybody raises questions about law and order in the state.”

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