Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain Saturday held a series of meetings with leaders of political parties, election and state officials to review poll preparedness and take stock of the ground situation in West Bengal ahead of the general elections. Jain was in the city after a BJP delegation comprising senior leaders Nirmala Sitharaman, Ravi Shankar Prasad and J P Nadda on Wednesday urged the Election Commission to declare West Bengal a "super-sensitive" state to ensure free and fair polls.
After meeting Jain, Secretary General of the ruling Trinamool Congress, Partha Chatterjee, told reporters that the BJP had taken recourse to "dishonest tactics" to suggest to the EC that peace was hampered in West Bengal. Chatterjee said that his party had apprised the EC that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) adopted the "ploy" to shield its own weakness and the saffron party's demand was nothing short of an insult to the state.
Beginning April 11, West Bengal will see polling in seven phases - its highest-ever - along with Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. BJP leader Mukul Roy, accompanied by senior leaders Shishir Bajoria and Jaiprakash Majumdar, said that he had given evidence to the EC official about TMC chief Mamata Banerjee's demand of declaring all booths in West Bengal as "sensitive" in Assembly elections of 2006 and 2011, besides Lok Sabha polls in 2009.
Roy said that he has told Jain that West Bengal Police should not be deployed during the elections for the sake of free and fair polls. Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya said his party had demanded that all booths in the state should be treated as "sensitive" and sufficient police should be deployed during the counting process on May 23.
Bhattacharya added that the EC should act impartially and not get influenced either by the central or state government. Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders Rabin Deb and Sukhendu Panigrahi also placed their suggestions and demands in the meeting.
Apart from the political parties, Jain also held a meeting with district election officers (DEOs), superintendents of police and police commissioners, besides top officials of the state government to review poll preparedness. Jain is also scheduled to meet other central government officials during the day.
Meanwhile, 10 companies of the Border Security Force (BSF) have begun route marches in vulnerable pockets in a number of districts including Kolkata, North and South 24 Parganas, to instill confidence among the voters. Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab and other EC officials here were also present in the meeting.