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West Bengal: Left upset over EC poll guidelines
April 03, 2006 15:38 IST
Last Updated: April 03, 2006 16:11 IST
With barely a fortnight to go for the first phase of assembly elections in West Bengal, a high-level delegation of the Left parties led by Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat met the Election Commission on Monday to complain about the EC's efforts to undermine the democratic exercise in the state.
The delegation comprising the representatives of Communist Party of India, CPI(M) and the Revolutionary Socialist Party, during a 50-minute detailed discussion, invited the EC's attention to matters like deployment of an exclusive central para military force in all polling booths, deletion of a large number of voters from the EC list, the biased role of certain observers and ban on graffiti, posters and banners in the state.
"The steps taken by the EC are not conducive to cheap modes of campaigning. We consider this contrary to the aim of widening democratic participation," Karat told a news conference after meeting Chief Election Commissioner B B Tandon and the other two Election Commissioners.
Senior CPI (M) leader Nilotpal Basu, CPI national secretary D Raja and RSP secretary Abani Roy were the other members of the left delegation, which submitted a 5-page memorandum to the Commission.
Karat dismissed a suggestion that the CPI (M) considered the EC as its 'enemy.'
"Who says so? We have just put forward our complaints and this is the right of any political party in a democratic system," he said, adding that the Trinamool Congress had also filed many complaints with the EC.
He said the EC had discriminated against West Bengal in the ban on graffiti while allowing its use in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu. A local law (West Bengal Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1976) applicable only to Kolkata has been extended to the whole of West Bengal to impose the ban, he added.
They also submitted a letter and a CD to back their charges.
The Trinamool Congress and opposition parties, the Left leaders alleged, were making attempts to delete thousands of genuine voters from the electoral list by furnishing 'frivolous' and 'motivated' information.
The situation is such that 'anybody can accuse anybody of being a Bangladeshi and get that person eliminated from the list,' Karat said, citing instances of deletion of the names of some senior CPI (M) leaders from the roll, including parliamentarian Alakesh Das and former parliamentarian Sudhir Giri. Another present Lok Sabha parliamentarian Prasanta Pradhan was served with a show-cause notice.
On election guidelines, they took objection to the powers given to the poll observers to countermand elections in a booth during counting of votes if the official feels that rigging or booth-capturing had taken place.
"The guidelines given to observers are not clear. Had rigging or booth-capturing taken place, it would have taken place on the day of polling. How can they countermand elections while counting is in progress," Karat asked.