Almost 900 "flying squads" will be deployed in West Bengal during the Assembly elections in 2016 to scrutinise candidates' election expenditure.
Every constituency in West Bengal will get three "flying squads" — cars mandated to respond to complaints of violations of the Model Code of Conduct, and equipped with Global Positioning Satellite (GPS). The squad will be accompanied by the police and headed by an executive magistrate while monitoring the polling booths and other areas marked as sensitive to abuse of power to influence voters. The teams are to record and take pictures of violations they detect.
"For each of the 294 Assembly constituencies, we will have three 'flying squads' headed by an executive magistrate and police officials to keep vigil on attempts to influence voters using money," a top Election Commission (EC) official told the Press Trust of India.
"Each of the flying squads have a GPS-fitted car so their movements can be tracked by EC. The squads have been asked to take photos and videos if they notice any violation and send it to us as soon as possible. This saves time and we get all records and evidence quickly," the official said.
As per election regulations, the EC is charting out areas that are "expenditure-sensitive". However, no particular polling area in West Bengal has been identified yet.
"We then give special focus to those areas. The 'flying squad' cannot avoid those areas as their movements are tracked by us," officials said.
Recently, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi was quoted as saying by the PTI that flying squads are being fitted with GPS technology to ensure they don't turn a blind eye to troubled areas during the elections.
Of the four states and one Union Territory going to polls, West Bengal has most number of seats, at 294. The state also has the maximum number (77, 247) of polling stations out of the five. A 48.7 percent increase was noted in the number of polling stations in the last five years in the state, whereas the number of electors increased 16.85 percent, according to the Election Commission of India.
The election in West Bengal will take place in six phases. The first phase will be conducted over two days. The election will be between April 4 and May 5, 2016.