Centre has refused to give forces for panchayat polls: Mamata

Kolkata, June 5 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday said the central government has expressed its inability to provide security forces for deployment during the panchayat polls in the state next month.

Quoting a home ministry letter in reply to the state government's requisition for central armed police forces (CAPF) for the July 2, 6, 9 panchayat polls, Banerjee said the central government refused to give the forces due to their over-stressed deployment.

"It is intimated to you that due to over-stressed deployment of CAPF over the country, it has not been found feasible to provide additional CAPF to West Bengal," said the letter read out by Banerjee to the media.

Following a court order for adequate security deployment during the polls, the Banerjee government May 29 had requisitioned for 300 companies of central security forces.

The Trinamool Congress government which had been adamant on conducting the polls sans the central forces, firmly put the ball in the centre's court.

"Earlier there was so much criticism that we do not want central forces, but now what can we do when the centre has refused. I knew they won't be able to provide," said Banerjee.

Banerjee said she has requested the governments of Punjab, Rajasthan and Odisha for providing security forces.

"Although, they have assured but there is no information yet on if they will accept our request. If they don't give, I cannot go there and bring in the forces," added Banerjee.

The State Election Commission and the Banerjee government had been at loggerheads over the panchayat polls over several issues with the deployment of central security forces being a major issue.