A day before the State government is to inform the Supreme Court how it plans to meet the requirement of security forces for the rural polls in 17 districts of West Bengal, the State’s Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said here on Thursday that the elections can be held with whatever forces are available with the State.

 “Never in anywhere in India, in no State and in no manner, have panchayat elections been held with Central paramilitary forces,” he said, reiterating the State government’s previous stand against Central forces for the polls although it had later sought for them but was refused on grounds of non-availability.

 With the Centre having made clear its inability to provide Central forces for the polls, the elections can now be held with the forces at the State government’s disposal, said Mr. Mukherjee.

The State Election Commission claims that it is yet to get an assurance from the State government on the availability of the required numbers of security forces as was stipulated in an order of the Calcutta High Court on May 14.

 Mr. Mukherjee added that the question of deploying Central forces had not arisen in the previous seven rural polls held in the State.

  • “Such forces are not required, I have been saying this for the past three months”

  • “If they [Supreme Court] want, the [first phase of] polls can be held on July 2”