The Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal on Thursday alleged that the Border Security Force (BSF) is threatening people in the border areas of the state to cast their votes in favour of a particular political party. They made these allegations after meeting the full bench of the Election Commission of India (ECI). Reacting to this, the BSF has dismissed TMC’s allegations and called them ‘without any basis and far from any truth’.
In the statement the BSF said, “BSF is a professional Border Guarding Force which has in the past, and also in the present, guarded our international borders with total sincerity and dedication. We have actively checked on illegal infiltration and smuggling and brought to the book criminals involved in such activities.”
It added, “The statement given by Partho Chatterjee, Hon’ble Education Minister of State of West Bengal, levelling allegations against BSF is without any basis and far from any truth. BSF stands firmly committed to its motto Duty unto death at all times.”
The full bench of the ECI, led by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, arrived in the state on January 20 evening on a three-day visit ahead of the assembly polls, the dates of which are yet to be announced.
“We have informed the CEC and other ECI officials that the BSF is threatening voters in the border areas. We have received inputs that officers of the paramilitary force are visiting various villages and asking people to cast their votes in favour of a particular political party. This is a dangerous situation and the ECI must look into it,” TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee told reporters after meeting the ECI delegation.
Chatterjee also alleged that the BSF personnel were telling the villagers that “none but us will remain in the border areas throughout the year to look after you”.
Reacting to the TMC allegations, BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh said that the BSF only protects the borders and no fingers should be pointed at the force. “Those levelling the allegations know better what prompted them to say such things,” Ghosh said after meeting the ECI delegation.
He said the BJP urged the ECI for the deployment of central forces in each booth during the elections. “The party also informed the ECI about the abnormal rise in the number of voters possibly due to the inclusion of infiltrators in the list and urged the poll panel to look into the matter,” Ghosh said.
CPI (M) leader Rabin Deb said the Left party urged the ECI for the effective utilisation of the central forces. “We urged the ECI to ensure a conducive atmosphere for holding free and fair elections,” he said.
The ECI officials are meeting the representatives of various political parties and holding discussions with officials of central and state regulatory agencies during their three-day visit. A review meeting will also be held with the divisional commissioners and district election officers, sources in the state poll panel told news agency PTI.