The BJP has been demanding central forces for conducting the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Even Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has called on State Election Commissioner Sourav Das and sought clarification regarding the use and deployment of forces in the civic polls, but indications are strong that the SEC might toe the state government’s line and conduct the crucial KMC election by deploying the state forces.
Though the state election commission — the state poll body responsible for conducting the election — is yet to come out with a definite force deployment plan, sources confirmed that the commission has asked for a detailed plan from the state home department. It has also been learnt that the department has already submitted the number of forces and the deployment pattern to the commission.
Top level sources in the commission said that in the plan submitted by the state government to the commission it is mentioned that the home department will be able to provide 32,000 police force — 26,000 from the Kolkata Police and another 5,000 from the state police force — to provide poll related security in all the 144 wards of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Interestingly enough, almost the same number of forces were used in the Assembly election. “The state home department has submitted a draft proposal and they will be providing a detailed security arrangement design on Monday,” a senior SEC official said.
The commission will need additional forces and election officials because the number of booths has increased substantially in this poll. According to the available data, the number of main booths will be 4,842 and the number of additional or auxiliary booths will be 365. As a result, the commission has to plan to increase the number of police to manage the additional number of booths.
The plan submitted by the state home department shows that each booth will have one Sub-Inspector (SI) and one Additional Sub-Inspector (ASI). He will be accompanied by two armed policemen. Constables with sticks are likely to manage the queue. Each borough will have Quick Response Teams (QRT) so that they can rush to any kind of situation immediately. These QRTs will be managed by the Rapid Action Force (RAF) of the Kolkata Police. The civic volunteers or the Green Police will not be used in the election.
Though the BJP has written to the State Election Commissioner to conduct the election with the central forces to maintain neutrality, a senior SEC official said, “The state force is capable enough to conduct the polls and we don’t feel that there is any need for the central forces”.