The Centre has cleared the immediate deployment of 315 companies of additional central armed forces for the forthcoming polls to the three-tier panchayat system in West Bengal.
These 315 companies, which will start getting deployed from Friday only, will be in addition to the 22 companies whose deployment has already been cleared.
The Union home minister has sent a communication to the West Bengal State Election Commission on this count. The 315 companies will be having a mix of personnel from Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Railway Protection Force (RPF).
On Thursday the state election commission had sought 800 additional companies of central armed forces in addition to the 22 companies that it had sought earlier.
Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition in West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari has claimed that considering the polls being conducted in a single- phase on July 8, a total of 822 companies will not be adequate. He has also indicated approaching the Calcutta High Court again on this count.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress leadership has expressed doubts that the decision to send central armed forces in phases is an indirect pressure on the state election commission to succumb to the pressure from the opposition to break up the single- phase election into multiple phases.
In 2013 West Bengal panchayat polls, where too central armed forces were deployed following the insistence of the then state election commissioner, Meera Pandey, the election were held in five phases. In 2013, as many 820 companies or 82,000 personnel of central armed forces were deployed for the five phase polls.
The opposition has contended since 2013 that there has been an increase in the number of districts, polling stations, polling booths and voters. So, the opposition has argued, if 82,000 central armed forces personnel were enough for five phase polls in 2013, the same is highly inadequate for the single phase polls in 2023.