Declare all Bengal vote booths sensitive: Congress

Kolkata (IANS)┬áThe West Bengal Congress leadership here on Wednesday urged the Election Commission to declare all 77,000 Lok Sabha polling booths in the state “sensitive” and deploy adequate number of central force personnel there.

Accusing the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of resorting to violence to create a “fear psychosis” ahead of the 2019 elections, state Congress chief Somen Mitra said the EC must act strongly to ensure free and fair elections in Bengal.

“All 77,000 polling booths in the state must be declared sensitive. Central force should be deployed in all booths. It will not be possible to earn people’s confidence by deputing state police in the polling premises,” Mitra told reporters after meeting state’s Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab.

“We have asked the CEO to ensure free and fair elections. The Trinamool Congress and the BJP are creating a fear psychosis among people. It is necessary to remove fear from among the people to ensure free and fair elections,” he said.

The demands came a day after a BJP delegation, led by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, met the Election Commission in New Delhi and claimed that West Bengal should be declared a super-sensitive state for the 2019 elections due to its “history of violence”.

When mentioned that reports submitted by district magistrates to the EC have not hint at any major law and order problems, Mitra said most reports were fabricated by the state government.

“All the reports are scripted. The state government is preparing reports and district magistrates are merely signing them. I am sure most of them are not aware of the contents of the report,” he said.

State Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya said: “If the Election Commission does not play tough to control the state administration, it would be impossible to hold free and fair poll in Bengal.”

“We do not have any complaints against any SPs or DMs, but they are running the administration as per the wish of the ruling party leaders. This should immediately stop. Once elections are announced, the administrative officials must abide by the directions of the EC,” he said.

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