Bengal: TMC Accuses BJP of Treating 'Polls as War', as Central Forces Begin Patrolling

The move to deploy companies of Central forces in the state even before election dates are announced is being seen as unusual.

New Delhi: After Central security forces on Sunday started marches and patrolling in several districts of West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) slammed the Central government, accusing the BJP of “treating polls as war, and not elections.

The Centre had dispatched 12 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces to West Bengal on Saturday, with 125 companies of various Central security forces set to arrive by February 25. The move to deploy such a large number of forces even before the dates of the election are announced is unusual.

According to the Indian Express, officials said the patrolling was aimed at “boosting the morale of the voters”.  The newspaper reported that on Sunday, West Bengal police and district officials were also seen accompanying the Central forces in many areas. Patrolling and marches were observed in districts such as Birbhum, Bankura, Burdwan, Howrah, North and South 24 Parganas and West Midnapore.

TMC leader Bratya Basu said, “The BJP is considering it (polls) as war and not elections. They might even send a tank because they know they don’t have people’s support.”

On Saturday morning, an EC official had told news agency PTI that the idea behind deploying Central forces was to ensure that “there is no problem when campaigning for the election starts”. The official added, “It is being done also to build confidence in the voters. Stress will be on area domination by the forces, especially in the sensitive zones.”

In a related development, the West Bengal unit of the BJP on Sunday wrote to Union home minister Amit Shah, accusing the state police of “bias” and not providing enough security to its rally.

The BJP claimed that its ‘Parivartan Yatra’ rally in North 24 Parganas district was attacked.

“Despite prior intimation, the local administration did not take any steps for the safety and security of the participants,” Banerjee wrote, seeking action against “biased officers, TMC miscreants, and also deploy honest and neutral personnel to conduct peaceful and fair assembly election.”

The BJP has launched ‘Parivartan Yatra’ rallies ahead of the assembly election in the state, which is due in April-May.

(With PTI inputs)