Congress insists on Central forces

THE Congress party on Sunday reiterated its demand of holding the panchayat polls in the presence of Central forces "to make the exercise free, fair and peaceful without interference of the ruling Trinamool Congress".

"We have already urged the State Election Commission in this regard demanding central para-military forces to ensure free, fair and peaceful election in the state. The SEC has assured us they would do their best in this regard," state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said here after a meeting with the party's district units in the presence of central observers.

AICC observer-in-charge of West Bengal Shakeel Ahmed and AICC leader R C Kuntia who were present in the meeting, called to sort out problems faced by district units and to coordinate the entire process of the party's preparation for panchayat election, Bhattacharya said.

The AICC leaders also assessed the situation at the block and district levels, Bhattacharya said, claiming that the leaders had acknowledged improvement in the party's position compared to previous panchayat election.

He quoted the AICC leaders as saying that hooligans, once under the CPM, had switched over to the Trinamool Congress and unleashed a reign of terror warranting the presence of Central forces during polling.

To a question, he said his party will fight the election alone and there will not be seat adjustment with any other party.

Claiming credit for 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayat polls, Bhattacharya said, "In no way Mamata Banerjee can claim credit for this." He also announced that a group of 75 Trinamool Congress workers from South 24-Parganas district had joined the Congress.

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