Bengal elections: No bike rally after model code is imposed, says poll panel

Express News Service
KOLKATA: Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Friday said no bike rally will be allowed across Bengal once the model code of conduct is in place ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in the state. 

In case of violation, the two-wheelers will be confiscated and released only after the elections, Arora said. “No motorbike rally will be announced before the Assembly election. Police will be given the necessary instructions to seize the two-wheelers and keep them in their custody till the completion of the poll process. The Commission will bring a notification regarding a blanket ban on motorbike rallies,” said Arora.

The announcement came in the backdrop of complaints by opposition parties that during poll campaigning bike-born party cadres roam at a place to show the strength of their party and terrorise common electorates.

The full bench of the Election Commission spent two days in Kolkata and held a series of meetings with the bureaucrats and other officials. The meetings were focused on Bengal’s law and order situation as the opposition parties are anticipating large-scale violence before and during the election. The ECI asked Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma and Additional Director General of Police (law and order), Gyanwant Singh, to execute all pending non-bailable arrest warrants by the end of this month.

Arora made it clear that an adequate number of central forces will be engaged in the upcoming elections to ensure a free and fair poll. “An adequate number of CRPF personnel shall be deployed ahead of the election,” he said.

The CEC said at present the state has 78,903 booths. “An additional 22,887 booths will be created because of the Covid-19 pandemic. All booths will be on the ground floor of the polling stations so that elderly people will face no difficulty to exercise their franchise,” said Arora.          

Responding to a query on political violence, Arora said the commission has already reviewed the incidents of violence, particularly, those with political overtones that happened in the past six months. “The SPs have come up with presentations regarding this and some of them were excellent. They will be asked to keep a special watch on the violence-prone areas after we send poll observers to the state,” Arora said. 

The Chief Secretary and Home secretary must also be vigilant against issues of fake information or false propaganda in the social media which were flagged off by a number of political parties, the commission said.