Kolkata, Jan 31 (PTI) The opposition parties in West Bengal on Thursday, during a meeting with the ECI’s full bench, demanded heavy deployment of central forces in the state during the upcoming Lok Sabha polls to ensure a free and fair election. Also Read - China Ramping Up Border Infrastructure, Govt Taking Necessary Measures: MEA

The full bench of the Election Commission of India (ECI), led by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, met representatives of various political parties. Also Read - Samajwadi Party Will Support Mamata Banerjee's TMC In Upcoming West Bengal Polls, Confirms Akhilesh Yadav

Besides leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), those of opposition parties such as the BJP, the CPI(M) and the Congress called on the ECI’s top bosses at a five-star hotel in central Kolkata. Also Read - India vs Australia 2021: Shubman Gill to Mohammad Siraj, Washington Sundar to T Natarajan - 5 Indian Players Who Made Test Debuts on Tour Down Under

“We demanded heavy deployment of central forces to ensure free and fair polls. They should be deployed in each and every booth of the state and the central forces should not be under the control of the district police. Those police officials act as per the orders of TMC leaders,” BJP delegation leader Mukul Roy said.

The TMC delegation, led by the party’s secretary general and senior minister Partha Chatterjee, also met the ECI full bench. However, the party leaders did not speak to the media.

The CPI(M) submitted to the apex poll body various statistics of violence which marred last year’s panchayat polls in the state and photographs of central forces not being used properly during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

“Apart from deployment of the central forces, it is to be ensured that they are used properly. We have seen in the last few elections that central forces are not being deployed properly and are kept inside barracks,” senior CPI(M) leader Rabin Deb told reporters.

The Congress too backed the demand and said the ECI should ensure that all Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines work properly.

The ECI’s full bench arrived here on Wednesday evening to assess preparedness for the Lok Sabha elections in the state.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.