The Election Commission has been flooded with demands for foolproof security from political parties as it prepares to conduct the ninth and final phase of polls on Monday. Polling will be held in 41 seats in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has sought flag marches and deployment of special observers to prevent irregularities in West Bengal. In a letter to the Election Commission, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury alleged that a party candidate was among the many injured in violence unleashed by the Trinamool Congress. “Open warnings are being issued that polling agents of all parties other than the ruling Trinamool Congress will not be allowed to enter the polling booths tomorrow. In such an atmosphere of widespread terror and intimidation, no free and fair polls can take place.”
In Uttar Pradesh, the scale of deployment of Central forces has been unprecedented for the last phase, considered the most critical and sensitive.
Central paramilitary forces are being deployed at all sensitive polling booths in Varanasi, Azamgarh and Naxalite-hit areas in Uttar Pradesh to ensure violence-free polling.
Of the 41 seats, Uttar Pradesh accounts for 18, West Bengal 17 and Bihar six. Those in the fray include the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, who is pitted against AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal and Congress’s Ajay Rai in Varanasi.
The Varanasi contest is now the “mother of all battles” after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s roadshow on Saturday.