EC looks to ensure peaceful 5th phase
Kolkata: The Election Commission is taking foolproof measures for fair and peaceful voting in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Bengal on Monday. Seven parliamentary constituencies will go to polls, with the total number of electors being 1,16,91,889. The Uluberia East Assembly constituency will also have by-elections, with a voter count of 2,20,397.
Elections will be held in Bongaon, Barrackpore, Howrah, Uluberia, Sreerampore, Hooghly and Arambagh and the Commission will have 100 percent deployment of Central Forces in the booths, with a total deployment of 580 companies.
"The Central Forces will be in charge of security in all the booths and the state armed police will be responsible for maintaining law and order and management of queues of voters. There will be no state force inside the polling booths," a Commission official said.
Apart from the Central Forces, there will be 142 quick response teams (QRT), which will be on patrol in the seven constituencies and rush whenever there will be reports of any irregularities.
Sources in the Commission said that the major challenge on their part is to ensure free and fair elections in Barrackpore, which has witnessed incidents of sporadic clashes in recent times, with Trinamool Congress and BJP blaming each other.
There will be more than 70 companies of Central Forces for Barrackpore alone. Bhatpara is one of the Assembly constituencies in Barrackpore, which was won by Arjun Singh on a Trinamool Congress ticket in the 2016 Assembly polls. Singh has now joined BJP and has been fielded by the saffron party against TMC's Dinesh Trivedi. Trivedi had won the Barrackpore seat in the last Lok Sabha polls.
Special Police Observer Vivek Dubey visited Barrackpore and held a meeting with the district election officials as well as the political parties. "We are hopeful of peaceful elections. There will be Central Forces in all booths as well as adequate QRTs," he said. For the Barrackpore constituency, there will be an additional 2 companies of Central Forces that will be part of the QRTs. There will be webcasting in 300 booths under the constituency as well.
There will be half section (four personnel) Central Forces in all the one and two booth premises and one section (eight personnel) forces in premises that have more than two booths.
Sources in the Commission indicated that out of the 578 companies requisitioned for the fifth phase, 50 companies have been sent to the constituencies that are going to polls in the sixth phase. The rest of the 528 companies will be deployed in 13,290 booths spread over 7,691 polling locations of the seven parliamentary constituencies.
The total number of candidates in the fifth phase is 83, among whom 12 are female.