Following the successful conduct of six phases of the West Bengal Assembly elections, the Election Commission is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the counting of votes on May 13 passes off smoothly.
The security aspect is being given top priority with a three-tier security planned at all the centres.
According to the State's Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta, 75 companies of para-military forces along with adequate State Armed Police personnel will be deployed at 87 counting venues across the State.
A striking feature of the three-tier security system is that the 100-metre periphery around the counting campus will be demarcated as ‘pedestrian zone' so that no vehicle enters the zone.
“State police personnel will screen the identity of persons entering the campus. At the second stage, which will be at the gate of the venue, body frisking will be done and no mobile phones will be allowed beyond this point. The third cordon will be at the entrance of the counting hall that will be manned by the Central forces. Only observers appointed by the Commission will be allowed to carry mobile phones inside the hall so as to keep the Commission updated about the results that will be declared in several rounds,” Mr. Gupta said on Thursday.
The media's access to the counting hall has also been restricted to a large extent.
Mr. Gupta said that counting will start exactly at 8 a.m. and over 14, 5000 personnel will be deployed for the counting process in the 87 centres. A centralised video graph system will record all the activities in individual counting halls.
Meanwhile, the Commission has decided to keep 144 companies of Central police force deployed in various parts of the State till May 23 for maintenance of law and order.
“An all-party meeting has been called on Thursday to discuss the post-poll deployment of forces and also to seek the parties' cooperation and involvement to maintain law and order in the State following the declaration of results on May 13”, Mr. Gupta said.
Meanwhile, the Commission has expressed “severe displeasure” over former Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP Anil Basu's reply to a show-cause served on him for allegedly making derogatory remarks against Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee at an election rally last month. It has also “warned” him to be careful in future.