Kolkata/ New Delhi:
The centre is set to deploy 120 columns of paramilitary forces across Bengal ahead of state elections due in April-May, sources have said. Each column has 100 security personnel.
Bengal is said to be prone to poll-related violence. Last month, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar had met Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi where he discussed several of his concerns, including the possibility of violence in the state polls.
“2021 will be a very important year in Bengal because there will be elections in the state. When we look at the panchayat elections of 2018 and the general elections of 2019, it is seen that they have been bloody; rules have been violated and voters have been under stress,” Mr Dhankhar had told reporters after meeting the Home Minister.
Yesterday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her colleague – West Bengal Labour Minister Jakir Hossain – was injured in a bomb attack after “some people were pressuring” him to join their party” as she linked the incident to the upcoming polls.
Mr Hossain suffered injuries on Wednesday after unidentified persons threw crude bombs at him while he was walking towards Nimtita Railway station in Murshidabad to board a train to Kolkata. “Around 26 of our people, including Jakir Hossain, were injured. Fourteen of them serious. Police investigation is on. The Chief Minister has said that CID, STF, and CIF have joined in. I hope Railways will help them. On behalf of the party, we want that culprits be arrested and brought to court,” said West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim.
With elections still months away, poll campaign already seems to have reached a fever pitch in Bengal with the BJP having set a target of winning over 200 of 294 seats in the state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already visited the state twice in the last few weeks and Home Minister Amit Shah has also been campaigning aggresively.
Mamata Banerjee, however, seems to be unfazed after several senior leaders of her party joined the BJP in the last few months.
“We will win 2021 with record margins,” she declared yesterday.