The Election Commission of India has decided to deploy 789 companies of Central forces — the highest force concentration so far — in the fourth phase of elections in West Bengal when 44 Assembly constituencies spread across seven districts in the state will go to the polls on April 10.
“Presently, there are around 800 companies of Central forces in the state, but the commission has assured to send another 200 companies from Assam where elections have recently concluded. This will take the number of Central forces to 1,000 companies, which is the highest deployment in the state in any election so far. This additional 200 companies will be used for the elections in North Bengal as this it will be logistically easier,” said a senior commission official in the state.
The rest of the forces after poll deployment will be used for guarding the strong-rooms and containing post-poll violence.
The nine constituencies in Cooch Behar that are going to the polls on Saturday will have the highest number of force deployment. According to the EC officials, 187 companies of Central forces will be deployed in 3,229 booths spread across 1,882 premises in the district. This will have a concentration of approximately 5.7 personnel per booth.
“Cooch Behar shares inter-state and national borders and so the district is topographically vulnerable. We don’t want to take any risk,” an EC official said.
The 11 constituencies in South 24 Parganas district will have a deployment of 184 companies. Of these, five constituencies, including Jadavpur, Kasba, Behala East, Behala West and Tollygunje, fall under the administrative jurisdiction of Kolkata for which 100 companies have been allotted.
The commission has deployed another 44 companies for poll management in the rest of the six Assembly constituencies. “There will be a major concentration of forces for the Assembly constituencies in Kolkata where elections will be held in 2,343 booths across 721 premises,” an official said.
In addition to this, 174 companies of Central forces will be deployed for the 10 Assembly constituencies in Hooghly district, 140 companies for the nine constituencies in Howrah district and another 98 companies for Alipurduar district.
The commission has allocated six companies of Central forces for Jalpaiguri as it shares borders with Alipurduar. “There are some booths in Alipurduar district that falls under Jalipaiguri district and so six companies have been allotted for the district,” the official said.