There is a pattern to the attack on Central forces in Bengal
THE WEEK|April 25, 2021
Sunil Arora, who demitted office on April 12, chose THE WEEK for his last interview as chief election commissioner. He said he was anguished over the constant attacks the commission faced, especially from the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. He also said that the attacks on Central forces in West Bengal was worrying and had a pattern.
SONI MISHRA

On West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee terming the death of four persons in the Central Industrial Security Force firing in Cooch Behar a genocide, he said the commission would go through the reported statement and discuss what was to be done.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q/You had described holding Bihar elections amid Covid-19 a “leap of faith”.

A/Conducting elections in Bihar, with 7.3 crore voters, has become a watershed moment in the history of elections worldwide. It was indeed a leap of faith, but not a leap in the dark…. The commission’s confidence was based on meticulous advance work done by our officers. I have to compliment the Bihar bureaucracy, too. Some of the officers contracted Covid-19, but they jumped back right in as soon as they recovered. A new parameter was added in the context of Covid-19, which is having a safe election.

Q/We have another round of elections amid a pandemic.

A/While planning the Bihar elections, the commission deliberated with political entities, the state chief electoral officer and health ministry officials, and came up with broad guidelines for conduct of election during Covid-19 in August 2020 itself. The updated guidelines have been reiterated for the ongoing elections.

Q/But you must be concerned about the crowds in rallies.

A/The commission reiterated the Covid-19 guidelines in an advisory sent to all political parties recently, and we plan to take some drastic action in the coming days. Our submission is that we require the willing cooperation of political parties.

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