Mamata demands deployment of armed forces for fair panchayat polls

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Kolkata, Apr 27 (UNI) Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today criticised proposed deployment of Home Guards for panchayat election, saying free and fair polls could not be held unless armed forces were deployed to man the polling booths in West Bengal.

Ms Banerjee, after releasing party manifesto for three-tier panchayat election, told a news conference that proposed recruitment of Home Guards and their deployment to man the election booths would only help the CPI (M) and its allies.

West Bengal will go to three phases polls on May 11, 14, and 18 to elect 41,513 Gram Panchayat members, 8798 for Panchayat Samity and 748 Zilla Parishad members, The State Election Commission had requested the government to deploy at least two armed constables each for 47,371 polling stations in seventeen districts of the state.

Altogether 3,68,72,222 electors are expected to cast vote in the panchayat polls, which are held every five-year.

Ms Banerjee said since the government had expressed its inability to deploy so much armed policemen, it proposed to recruit new Home Guard for deployment at the polling booths.

''This is an attempt to deploy own goons at the polling booths and free and fair election is not possible in this arrangement,'' Ms Banerjee said.

She also criticised the Congress saying the party had always worked for CPI (M) in West Bengal and took its support in Delhi.

Congress party had always played ''dual roles'' in state politics and asked why it did not field candidates in Garbeta, Keshpur, Khanakul, Khejuri, Bankura and Purulia and had alliance in North Bengal with the CPI(M).

She vowed to continue her fight against the CPI(M) despite all odds and repression on her supporters across the state.

Ms Banerjee said the government had already ''manipulated'' panchayat polls in advantage of the CPI (M) like reducing seats to 51,000 from 69,000 by delimiting constituencies and now going for recruitment of new Home Guard for its own cause.

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