KMC polls: No need for central forces, SEC tells Raj Bhawan

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Putting an end to the month-long debate whether central forces will be deployed for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) elections scheduled on December 19, the State Election Commission (SEC) informed the Raj Bhawan on Tuesday that it is satisfied with the deployment mechanism of Kolkata Police and there is no need to depute central forces for the KMC polls at this moment.

Sources in the commission said that the SEC after a detailed discussion with Kolkata Police and the state Home Department officials is satisfied with the number of forces and the deployment mechanism designed by the Kolkata Police.

“There is no need for central forces at this moment, and this has been communicated to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday,” a senior SEC official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The crucial security related meeting, which was supposed to take place on Monday, was postponed for a day after the Kolkata Police informed the commission that they were working on a plan, which will be ready by Tuesday.

Earlier, the commission had a detailed discussion with Subhankar Sinha, Joint Commissioner (Headquarters), Kolkata Police, and submitted a draft proposal to State Election Commissioner Sourav Das regarding the deployment pattern for the elections.

Though Dhankhar had insisted on central forces for conducting the polls, Das, following the toe of the state government, was keen to conduct the polls with the help of the state forces.

Top sources in the commission said that in the plan submitted by the state government to the SEC, it was said that the Home Department will be able to provide a 32,000-strong police force — 26,000 from Kolkata Police and another 6,000 from the state police force — to provide poll-related security in all the 144 wards of Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

Interestingly, almost the similar number of forces was used for the Assembly elections held earlier this year.

The commission will need additional forces and election officials because the number of booths has increased substantially in this poll. According to 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 forces to manage the additional number of booths.

The plan submitted by the Home Department shows that each booth will have one Sub-Inspector (SI) and one Additional Sub-Inspector (ASI), to be accompanied by two armed policemen. Constables are likely to manage the queue.

Each borough will have a Quick Response Team (QRT) to manage any untoward incident. The QRTs will be managed by the Rapid Action Force (RAF) of Kolkata police. The civic volunteers or Green Police will not be used in the civic polls.

Though the BJP had written to the State Election Commissioner to conduct the elections with 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 there is any need for central forces.”

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