KOLKATA: Complaining of meagre deployment of central forces in the three bypolls in West Bengal, the BJP on Monday moved the Election Commission seeking adequate number of central troopers and demanding non-deployment of the state police personnel to ensure free and fair elections.
In a letter to the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer, the state BJP leadership said only 13 companies of central forces have been deployed so far for the total 801 polling booths in Karimpur, Kharagpur Sadar and Kaliaganj constituencies which would go to the hustings on November 25.
Eight companies of central forces have been sent for Karimpur, three for Kaliaganj and two others for Kharagpur.
According to the missive signed by party state secretary Tushar Kanti Ghosh and election management committee in-charge Shishir Bajoria, there are four sensitive gram panchayats - Radhikapur, Malgaon, Mustafa Nagar and bochadanga - in Kaliaganj.
"In Karimpur, out of 261 booths, 90 are very sensitive," the letter said.
"To ensure each voter can caste his/her vote, which is a fundamental right, BJP West Bengal unit once again demands immediate deployment of adequate Central Armed Police Force, for area domination and manning of 100 per cent booths. We also demand that West Bengal police may not be deployed at all," the leaders said.
Ghosh told IANS that unless there was adequate central force deployment, the ruling Trinamool Congress would turn the bypolls into a "farce".
The bypolls are significant as they are the first trial of strength for political combatants in the state after the Lok Sabha polls.
The Trinamool lost ground to the BJP in the April-May Lok Sabha polls, where the saffron party came up with its best ever performance in the state grabbing 18 seats - up from two it had won in 2014. The Trinamool, which had bagged 34 seats in 2014, had to be satisfied with 22 this time around.
Since then, the Trinamool has roped in poll expert Prashant Kishore who has devised various mass outreach programmes for the state's ruling party. The bypolls thus would afford an opportunity for the Trinamool to see the impact on the ground of kishore's strategies.
The BJP would use the poll to gauge whether it still retains the momentum which led to its fine performance in the Lok Sabha polls, and whether the issue of a proposed National Register of Citizens in Bengal has a good support or not among the people.
Another subject of interest would be the performance of the Left parties and Congress which have formed an alliance for the three seats. The Congress is contesting Kharagarpur Sadar and Kaliaganj, with the Left in fray in Karimpur.
During the general elections, the BJP led in the assembly segments of Kharagpur Sadar and Kaliaganj, while the Trinamool was ahead in Karimpur.
The polls at Kharagpur Sadar and Karimpur were necessitated after the MLAs from the respective seats were elected to the Lok Sabha.
State BJP president and former Kharagpur MLA Dilip Ghosh was elected from Medinipur, while Trinamool's Mahua Moitra - legislator from Karimpur - won the Krishnanagar seat.
The bypolls in Kaliaganj is the fallout of the death of Congress MLA Pramath Nath Roy.