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EC, MHA discuss forces for upcoming state elections; EC to visit Assam, WB next week | India News


NEW DELHI: Preparations for the impending assembly elections in four states (West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala) and the territory of the Puducherry Union appear to have entered an advanced stage with the Election Commission in talks with the Union Secretary of the Interior on Tuesday on the number of central paramilitary forces that will be deployed for electoral security.
The meeting between the EC’s top brass and Interior Secretary Ajay Bhalla in Nirvachan Sadan came ahead of a Commission visit to West Bengal and Assam next week to assess the preparation for the elections. The Deputy Election Commissioner in charge of West Bengal Sudeep Jain is currently on a tour of the state, his second visit there in a month, to take stock of the preparations, while the Director General, ECI, Dharmendra Sharma is in Assam with the same purpose.
According to sources, the EC is said to have held three preliminary meetings at the level of DEC Umesh Sinha and the special secretary of the Interior Ministry Praveen Kumar Srivastava, to discuss the requirements regarding the availability of the central forces, before Tuesday ‘ sniffing at the Home Secretary level. The scope of forces to be fought by the Interior Ministry will be a crucial input in deciding the phases in which the next assembly elections will take place, particularly in West Bengal, where political violence remains a major concern.
Based on indications, the surveys in all five states are likely to be completed before the CBSE Class XII and X exams begin on May 4. law and concerns about order in West Bengal, as polls in the state are staggered into a good 5-7 phases, cannot be ruled out.
An official told TOI that since many opposition parties in West Bengal have expressed apprehensions about the impartiality of the state law enforcement machinery, during interactions with DEC Jain, EC is considering the deployment of central forces in all electoral ballot boxes in West Bengal.
Meanwhile, EC sources said that the number of polling stations in each of the five states / UT linked to the polls will increase as the voting panel intends to follow the Bihar poll template, when voters per voting booth were reduced from 1,500 to 1,000. West Bengal itself will see the addition of 22,000-23,000 polling stations.
EC also plans to deploy a senior retired IPS officer as a special police observer in West Bengal to monitor public order matters during the elections, in addition to sending spending observers to Tamil Nadu and possibly West Bengal as well.

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