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EC pulls up West Bengal Babus for laxity in poll preparation

WebdeskMar 02, 2021, 07:39 AM IST

EC pulls up West Bengal Babus for laxity in poll preparation

New Delhi: Laxity in the bureaucracy is a style statement in the Mamata Banerjee-ruled and the erstwhile Left Front bastion? West Bengal 'babus' known for raising bureaucratic wrangling have been given a few days more time to plug the loopholes vis-a-vis their preparedness for the coming elections in the state. Sources said Deputy Election Commissioner Sudip Jain was not happy with some district officials with regard to their poll preparedness in the last video conference. "Mr Jain has given them a few days time.....," a source said sharing some details about the video conference Jain held with top district authorities including from Kolkata and some vulnerable districts like Murshidabad and South 24 Parganas. Sources said it was virtual 'reprimand and cautioning' time for officials from various districts including from South 24-Parganas. The district of South 24 Parganas has 31 Assembly Constituencies. These include some politically high profile and some vulnerable for polls and campaign-related violence - like - Raidighi, Mandirbazar, Jaynagar, Canning Paschim and Baruipur Paschim. Sources said the slackness that has irked the poll panel key official is non-completion of vulnerability mapping, not visiting temporary structures where polling booths would be set up and the fact that a large number of licensed firearms were not deposited in the government's armoury yet. The state authorities and district officials have been asked to provide in details the list of 'vulnerable areas' as central forces ought to be deployed in these pockets well in advance as part of necessary confidence-building measures for the voters and also political parties. EC has deployed 125 companies of central forces even before poll dates were declared last Friday. The state will also have about 3,200 temporary polling stations as the poll panel wants that all booths ought to be set up on the ground floor. Deputy Election Commissioner was reportedly also unhappy as about 1,300 firearms holders of 4,000 plus owners were exempted from the rule in Kolkata with no satisfactory and valid reasons. Last week, a BJP delegation met the state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Aariz Aftab and alleged that the Central forces were not sent to areas that have witnessed widespread violence. They said the Mamata Banerjee government has deployed the central forces in a manner that will serve the interest of the ruling party. As against 79,000 number of booths in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, this time more than one lakh polling booths will be used. The announcement of staggered eight phases of polls in West Bengal has courted controversies. But the state has a history of polls related violence. In the 2016 polls, the elections were conducted in six phases; while in the 2011 elections the polls were conducted in six phases. During the Left regime in 2006, the elections were held in five phases.

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