Unprecedented Security Arrangements Made For Bhabanipur Bypoll

Kolkata:  The Election Commission has decided to deploy additional 20 companies of central forces, taking the total to 35 companies, only for the bypoll to the Bhabanipur Assembly constituency in Kolkata from where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting.

The by-election will be held on Thursday, and the counting of votes will take place on Sunday.

According to Election Commission officials, the additional 20 companies of central forces will be deployed for patrolling duty, because there has been widespread allegation that the ruling Trinamool Congress is threatening the voters, trying to stop them from going to the polling centres.

“The additional companies will also be deployed to prevent any kind of unlawful gathering and untoward situation,” an EC official said.

Though as many as 2,250 state forces personnel have been deployed for the bypoll, they will not be deployed inside the polling stations.

“The 15 companies of central forces that are presently stationed in the constituency will take care of the polling stations. There will be two constables outside the polling stations to manage the queue, but the responsibility of the security will rest entirely on the central forces,” the official added.

Besides declaring all the 287 booths as ‘sensitive’, the Election Commission has decided to deploy a micro-observer each in all the booths.

“The Commission has also declared 13 booths as ‘super-sensitive’. Mitra Institution, the booth where Banerjee is supposed to cast her vote, has also been declared as super-sensitive. There will be web-casting not only in the super-sensitive booths, but also in many other booths. The Election Commission will keep a close watch on the development of the election process,” the official added.

Considering the incessant rains in Kolkata for the last few days, the Commission has made arrangements to take the people to the polling stations.

The EC has asked all the people to call on the toll-free number 1950 if they can’t go to their respective polling stations. The Commission will make arrangements to bring the voters to the booths and send them back after they exercise their franchise.

“If some area is waterlogged, the Commission will make arrangements to pick people from their homes. In addition to this, adequate security arrangements will be made so that people can exercise their franchise freely,” the official said.

The Commission is also making arrangements for adequate sanitisers and gloves for the voters. The polling personnel will be given raincoats so that they can conduct the election even in the midst of rain.