The West Bengal government failed to provide the State Election Commission with the details of the security forces that could be made available for the conduct of the rural polls, despite repeated requests from the latter, the Commission told the Calcutta High Court here on Thursday. 

Citing correspondence between officials of the State Election Commission and the State government over a period of six months, counsel for the Commission Samaraditya Pal told the Court that the government never gave any figures about the number of security personnel that would be available, not even the forces available in West Bengal.

 Mr. Pal said the first time that the State government disclosed the figures regarding security forces was after the Commission moved the Court.  

The affidavit filed by the State government in response to the petition mentions that over 55,000 security personnel were available, said Mr. Pal, adding that according to an assessment made by the Commission based on reports filed by district authorities, the available security forces was over 36,000.  

According to the same reports, the Commission had ascertained that more than 1.78 lakh personnel will be required, he said, adding that accordingly the demand for 800 companies of central paramilitary forces had been made.

 Mr. Pal emphasised that the arrangements for the polls “cannot be based on assumptions and probabilities, but on the concrete number of police personnel” that would be available. 

Making a case for the deployment of central paramilitary forces, Mr. Pal said the present law and order situation in the State “does not inspire confidence in the minds of the voters.” He cited recent incidents of violence “reinforce” this view.  

He stated the examples of the death of a policeman during a political clash outside a college, the death of student leader Sudipta Gupta in police custody and the repercussions to the heckling of the State’s Finance Minister Amit Mitra in New Delhi including the attack on Presidency University.

Outlining the differences between the State Election Commission and the State government that had resulted in the Commission moving Court, Mr. Pal said there were four issues – the deployment of adequate security forces, the appointment of observers, the number of phases in which elections will be held and the Budget for the rural polls.