West Bengal government says elections are our priority, not IPL

The West Bengal government on Thursday said that it would request the Centre for an additional 30 companies of para-military forces to hold the IPL match on May 4 as the date was close to the Lok Sabha polls in the state scheduled on May 7.

“Our hands are tied. Our first priority is elections. Our second priority is elections. Unless some additional forces are present, the match on May 4 may not be held. We want 30 additional companies of para-military,” Chief Secretary AM Chakraborty said after a high-level meeting to work out a response to the revised schedule sent to the state by the Union Home Ministry.

Stating that the government was not taking any chances in the wake of attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore, he said 4,000 policemen would be needed for each day of the matches. Of these, 3,000 would be posted in the grounds.

The Home Secretary said the union government was creating a central pool of security forces for the elections, drawing personnel from all the state forces. “We do not yet know its strength or composition.”

According to the revised dates sent to the state government, the IPL matches in West Bengal have been scheduled on April 11, 14, 16, 21, 26 and May 2, and 4. Lok Sabha elections in the state are scheduled on April 30, May 7 and 13.

In reply to a question, Chakraborty said that in the event of the Centre declining to provide the required forces for the May 4 match, it would have to be held either before the Lok Sabha elections in the state or after they are completed.

“I do not know if the matches can be held at all if the Kolkata Police personnel are deployed elsewhere for election duty,” the Home Secretary said.

Earlier, Kolkata Police Commissioner Goutam Mohan Chakraborty said that additional para-military forces would have to be sent at least two days before the May 4 match. “If the forces are not provided, the match cannot be held.”

He said the city police would have no problem in providing security to other matches if they were not deployed elsewhere for Lok Sabha elections.

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