Central forces not needed for panchayat polls: Bengal

Kolkata, March 24 (IANS) West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress government Sunday defended its decision to conduct the upcoming rural body polls without the services of central security forces, saying the conditions did not warrant it and it was a wasteful expenditure.

“The law and order situation of the state does not warrant deployment of central paramilitary forces for the panchayat polls. Moreover, spending Rs.400 crore for using their services is not desirable,” said state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee.
Mukherjee also said the government, which has been on a collision course against the State Election Commission (SEC) over the scheduling of the panchayat polls, was ready for a legal battle with the poll panel.
“It’s now up to the Commission. if they want to take legal recourse we are ready for that. Everybody in the country has the freedom to seek legal aid,” said Mukherjee.
Defying the panel’s suggestion for a three-stage polls under the supervision of central security forces, the Bengal government Friday announced that the two-phased election would be held April 26 and 30 with the state police providing security.
While the government has been maintaining that it had the constitutional right to announce the poll schedule, it is being speculated that the poll panel might knock on the legal corridor against the announcement.
Barring the Trinamool, the rest of the political parties including the Congress and Left Front have been pitching for at least three-phased polls under the vigil of central forces.