Bengal panchayat polls: Suvendu Adhikari files PIL seeking central forces’ deployment

Leader of opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari on Monday filed a PIL before a division bench of the Calcutta High Court demanding the deployment of central armed forces during next year’s election to the three- tier panchayat system in the state.

In the PIL filed before the division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj, Adhikari also appealed for the rural civic body polls to be conducted next year under the supervision of a retired justice of the Calcutta High Court.

The matter will come up for hearing on Tuesday.

Recently, in a number of public rallies, Suvendu Adhikari expressed apprehension that the ruling Trinamool Congress will try to wrest control over all the three- tiers in the state’s panchayat system by unleashing violence as they had done in the last polls in 2018. So now, his close associates said, he has decided to tap the legal doors so that avenues are opened to make the rural civic body polls peaceful as far as possible.

While the state election commission is the supervising and conducting authority for the panchayat polls, the commission generally relies on the state police forces for maintaining security on the polling and counting days. However, the exceptions were in the 2013 West Bengal panchayat polls, when the- then state election commissioner, Meera Pande, ensured deployment of some battalions of central armed forces and for that purpose the state election commission office then had to engage into a series of legal battles with the state government.

During the recent period there had been series of explosions, shootouts and recovery of firearms, crude bombs and explosives from different rural pockets in the state, coupled with toll on human lives, which had aggravated the apprehensions of bloodbaths on the polling days.

However, Trinamool Congress’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee has once again said in public meetings that the polling process in the rural civic body polls this time will be peaceful.

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