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Bengal opposition parties meet police observer

IANS  |  Kolkata 

Representatives of West Bengal opposition parties on Monday met the Election Commission (EC)-appointed special police observer Vivek Dubey and demanded that security measures should be taken immediately across the state to guarantee free and fair polls.

The state's ruling Trinamool Congress, however, claimed that the law and order situation in West Bengal was in a better shape than in any other state in the country and urged Dubey to "substantiate and survey" the allegations made by the opposition outfits before taking any steps.

"We told him that our delegation had submitted a written complaint to the EC referring to a number of incidents of law and order breach in the state in the last few weeks but still no effective measures have been taken," Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Rabin Deb said of the meeting with Dubey.

"Polling will be held in north Bengal's Cooch Behar and Alipurduar in the first phase on April 11. But Central forces have not reached Alipurduar, while in Cooch Behar, they have been kept idle under the direction of district police superintendent. Route marches are not happening. The EC said they (CRPF) will go to Alipurduar today. This shows its negligent attitude to take up confidence building measures," he alleged.

A state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) delegation led by Mukul Roy echoed the concerns raised by Deb and alleged that the state police's Rapid Action Force (RAF) is being used to conduct area domination instead of the CRPF personnel, taking advantage of the similarity of their uniforms.

Accusing the state's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Aariz Aftab of being "partisan" towards the ruling Trinamool Congress, Roy claimed that they did not want to discuss the issues in detail in his presence.

"The people of Bengal have the perception that the CEO in the state is partisan. He is not impartial. So whatever complaints we make, will be relayed to the state government and Trinamool Congress within two minutes. That is why we did not want to say anything (to the observer) in the CEO's presence," he added.

The Congress also noted that the onus is on the EC and officers like Dubey to ensure that free and fair elections can be conducted in West Bengal.

"People of Bengal are depending on the EC for free and fair polls. If they fail to keep their promise, people will point their fingers at the EC. The state government cannot be blamed at that point because it is the EC's responsibility to maintain law and order during the elections," Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya said after the meeting.

Representatives of the Trinamool Congress, however, accused the opposition parties of making "baseless allegations" regarding the law and order situation and urged Dubey to "substantiate and survey" the complaints before taking action.

"The law and order and political situation in West Bengal is better than any other state in the country. The allegations and complaints made by the state opposition parties lack proof. We have asked the observer to first substantiate the allegations before taking any steps," Trinamool leader Tapas Roy said.

"Candidates of a certain political party are making such statements about the deployment and action of the central force, that it seems the force should act under their direction. Such statements are direct violation of the model code of conduct. The EC should take appropriate action against these people."



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 01 2019. 16:12 IST