EC likely to deploy over 1 lakh central forces in Assembly polls
Kolkata: The Election Commission is likely to deploy around one lakh central forces in the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state in parity with the substantial rise of polling stations in the state. There has been a quantum rise – nearly 30 per cent— in the number of polling stations for smooth conductance of the polls, following Covid-19 health protocols. The number of polling stations has increased from 78903 to 101790 this time.
"Previously, we had a standing instruction of 1200 voters per booth and if it was more than 1200 voters then there would be an auxiliary booth. But, because of COVID the number of electors has been reduced to 1000 per booth. So, there is a requirement of additional 22887 booths in the state. Hence, we will require additional forces for manning the booths," a senior EC official said.
The Election Commission held a meeting on Saturday evening in presence of state CEO Ariz Aftab where the issue of requirement and deployment of central forces was discussed. According to sources in the commission, the highest electoral body has recommended an increase of nearly 25 per cent forces this time compared to the last Lok Sabha polls. If the central government accepts the proposal, then the number of forces in the state may go beyond 1000 companies, the highest in the state so far. "There is a 30 per cent increase in the booths and so the Commission has asked for a proportionate increase of central forces, subject to approval from the Home Ministry," said an EC official.
Till date, the highest number of central forces—828—was deployed during the second phase of Assembly polls in the state in 2016. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, around 750 companies of forces were deployed. The Commission is also trying to develop a mechanism so that the central forces can work in 'close coordination' with the state forces.