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Bengal polls: Process may be complete by April end

Kolkata: The Election Commission has indicated that it is willing to complete the entire election procedure by the last week of April with the CBSE Board examinations slated to start from May 4.

Deputy Election Commissioner in charge of West Bengal Sudeep Jain on Wednesday held a meeting with all the DMs and SPs of the state and took stock of the law and order situation.

Sources in the Commission said Jain has made it clear that he will have zero tolerance against lawlessness and all steps should be taken to ensure a free and fair election in the state.

"The CBSE has already announced the schedule for Board examinations which will commence from May 4. So, the Commission is seriously considering completion of the poll procedure in four states — Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and one Union Territory Puducherry — by April end. The Commission is likely to hold elections in seven phases, and for this the poll schedule is likely to be announced by mid-February," a senior official in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Kolkata said.

Jain has directed all SPs to execute non-bailable arrest warrants with directions to send weekly law and order reports to the Commission.

The official reiterated that the Commission will take all possible measures towards confidence-building among the voters so that they can come out to exercise their franchise fearlessly. "There may be more Central forces deployed during the elections. We are now preparing the vulnerability map on the basis of various inputs from the district. The final deployment of the Central forces will depend on the vulnerability mapping," he added. The Commission advised the district administration to follow the Bihar model where elections were conducted successfully amidst the Covid situation.

There will be an increase of 15 to 25 per cent booths which will be around 28,000. So, for management of the booths there will be an obvious requirement of additional security forces. The full bench of the Commission is likely to visit the state next week for further assessment.

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