EC marks six constituencies for special watch
Kolkata: The Election Commission has identified six Lok Sabha constituencies out of 42 in Bengal for keeping special vigil. The EC has decided to deploy one Police Observer each for these six constituencies to ensure free and fair elections. There will be one police observer in charge of two constituencies in the other 36 seats.
Sources in the EC said that the six constituencies which will be under special watch are Raiganj, Murshidabad, Ranaghat, Asansol, Sreerampore and Kolkata South. "There will be one Police Observer each for these six seats," an EC official said.
It may be mentioned that Police Observers for the constituencies which will go for polling in the first two phases, have already reached the state.
The Police Observers will be responsible for maintaining law and order, the deployment of Central Forces, route march for area domination etc. They will also keep in touch with the state administration and send reports to the special Police Observer of Bengal as well as the Election Commission.
The Election Commission takes into account a number of factors when it comes to deployment of a Police Observer. The geographical location of a constituency, its law and order situation, antecedents during previous polls and sensitivity of the polling booths under the constituency are all analysed before assigning such observers. The percentage of voting is also taken under consideration.
It may be noted that North Kolkata has the least voter turnout ratio among Bengal's 42 Lok Sabha constituencies, in the last three Lok Sabha polls. In 2014, it had a turnout of only 66.08 percent, when the state's average stood at a whopping 82.22 - one of the highest in the country.
Sources in the EC said that there will be 44 Expenditure Observers for the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, along with 47 General Observers.
The ECI on Thursday had already replaced retired BSF director general K K Sharma with 1981 batch IPS officer Vivek Dubey as Central Police Observer for Bengal.
Sharma's appointment as Central Police Observer for Bengal had been objected to by Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee and CPI(M) on grounds of neutrality.
It may be noted that the EC has primarily approved the report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Bengal that less than 30 percent of the total booths in the state are 'sensitive'. As per reports of the CEO's office, 18,461 booths in the state have been marked as vulnerable out of as total of 78,000.
According to sources in the EC, South 24-Parganas, with 2,357 vulnerable pockets, is the most sensitive district in the state. Eight other districts including North 24-Parganas, Murshidabad, Malda, East Midnapore, North Dinajpur, Birbhum, West Burdwan and Kolkata are also under the watch of the Election Commission.