With the high voltage 2021 West Bengal Assembly polls nearing, the Election Commission (EC) is determined to conduct a free and fair election in the state. This is why the commission has already started taking stock of the poll preparedness in the politically volatile West Bengal.
A team of the poll panel led by deputy election commissioner Sudeep Jain is on a two-day observation tour in Kolkata. Jain is scheduled to meet senior IAS and IPS officers including the district magistrates, superintendents of police and police commissioners in various districts of south and north Bengal to gauge the current situation on the ground in the state. Moreover, Jain also met Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay to seek cooperation from the state government.
Prepared to declare all booths in West Bengal ‘sensitive’: Deputy Election Commissioner
Jain has said that the Election Commission is determined to conduct the 2021 Assembly polls in West Bengal in a free and fair manner and is prepared to declare all booths in the state ‘sensitive’ if the law and order situation so warrant.
A senior EC official also stated that the Commission has asked all the DMs and SPs to send daily report to the EC and identify the trouble makers from now onwards so that arrangements could be made to put all of them behind bars once election notification is issued. He also confirmed that the election body is keeping a close watch on the law and order situation in the state and is willing to take all possible steps so that voters can exercise their franchise.
Jain who is in the state for the next two-days is also likely to coordinate with health officials to find out about the Covid-19 safety measures that need to be put in place during the poll process.
Home Minister Amit Shah is also in West Bengal on December 19 and 20 to check the party’s preparedness before the 2021 polls. According to state BJP sources, the Union home minister’s visit is of immense political significance with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar criticising the “worsening” law and order situation in the state. Several TMC leaders are expected to join BJP in Amit Shah’s presence, including former minister Suvendu Adhikari who left TMC recently.
West Bengal BJP writes to EC
According to reports, recently, a delegation of West Bengal BJP leaders led by Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta wrote to Election Commission to conduct impartial polls and requested an early deployment of Central Police Forces (CPF) in the state. This came in the aftermath of the mob attack on the convoy of BJP chief JP Nadda when he was on his way to attend a party programme at Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency on December 10.
Mob attack on JP Nadda’s convoy
Videos had surfaced where protestors carrying Trinamool Congress flags are seen throwing stones and bricks at JP Nadda and Kailash Vijayvargiya’s car, while the state police stood like mute spectators.
The attack on the BJP chief in full public view had drawn widespread criticism for the WB ruling dispensation. Hours after the attack, the State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh issued a stern warning to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) party. Guv Jagdeep Dhankar had also written to the Union Home Ministry raising serious concerns on the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. The Union Home Secretary has written, not once but twice, to the Bengal government asking the state’s Chief Secretary and police chief to meet MHA but Mamata Banerjee has continued to stay defiant.
TMC mass exodus
Amidst all this, the mass exodus which TMC has faced in the last few days, is definitely a cause of concern for the party chief Mamata Banerjee, especially when she is eyeing at her third consecutive term. Trinamool Congress (TMC) stalwart and once Mamata’s close aide, Suvendu Adhikari’s resignation has had a domino effect in the party as 5 more leaders ditched Mamata Banerjee. The political sphere is rife with rumours that the exodus of these TMC senior leaders are ascribed to Mamata Banerjee’s affinity towards election strategist Prashant Kishore and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee.
However, according to recent reports, TMC MLA Jitendra Tiwari has returned to the party within 24 hours of resignation.