Nilotpal Basu, Central Secretariat Member of CPI(M) met the Chief Election Commissioner today to draw attention of the Commission to some serious concerns with regard to the forthcoming elections to the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. The full text of the memorandum submitted to the Commission is being released herewith.
We are constraint to draw your kind attention to certain critical issues which need your attention and intervention. Such response would be extremely important for ensuring free and fair elections to the West Bengal assembly.
A press conference held by the Additional Chief Electoral Officer, Dibyendu Sarkar, on behalf of the CEO office has created certain confusion in the public mind (Annexure I). As we are aware that following the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) till the election process is over, all issues which might affect the free and fair polls is under the overall `superintendence and control’ of the ECI; however, the observation that state government have the Constitutional responsibility for law and order situation has led to certain apprehensions. Given the overall law and order context in West Bengal, the people are apprehensive that number of incidents which are essentially related to the holding of free and fair polls might be utilized by officials, especially police officials, in a partisan manner in order to benefit the ruling party. We understand that though the police has to act but even they are answerable to the ECI and their conduct needs to be monitored to avoid such an eventuality. A clarification to this effect may go a long way to put all apprehensions to rest.
From the very outset, the ECI has maintained that Central forces will be deployed in all booths during the Assembly polls (Annexure II). We were also informed that additionally, there will be adequate Central forces available till the elections are over in a particular booth and constituency and they will be deployed for carrying out continuous route marches for `area domination’ in order to ensure public confidence towards a peaceful and fear-free election. However, there are strong rumours, as well as, certain information which gives us to understand that areas where elections are not going to be held in the initial phases, forces which had been initially deployed are being reduced or demobilized. This, if it so happens, will lead to a psychological setback for the people who were enthused initially. Apart from this, we would specifically point out, that though 227-Pingla AC has 80 per cent booths which have been classified as either sensitive or super sensitive and warrants intensive route march, normally necessitating the deployment of Central forces within the constituency itself. While the Left Front candidate for the constituency had spoken to the observer, and the observer had, in turn, spoken to the DM and SP of West Midnapur district about this, such deployment and intensive route marches have not taken place. Kind intervention of the EC is urgently needed. We have now developed on the spot real time feedback on deployment and we draw your attention and forward the representation of the CPI(M) West Bengal State Committee on the situation in 235-Keshpur AC (Annexure III).
Certain extremely disturbing incidents have come to our notice in 131-Kakdwip AC (Annexure IV). We are forwarding the representation of the CPI(M) South 24 Parganas District Committee where in under the constituency falls. It clearly shows how the OC of Dhola Haat Police Station and the SDPO had acted in a partisan manner over the murder of a TMC activist. You will recall that we had earlier in our first representation itself expressed the apprehension that the intra TMC feud is assuming such violent proportion that it is, on the one hand, threatening the general law and order situation as well as casting a spell on the environment for holding free and fair election; on the other hand, it is being used by the police administration to frame opposition activists. Precisely this has happened where opposition leaders, including the main opposition candidate supported by the Left Front, even though they were physically far away and could not have possibly reached the spot where the murder took place, have been named in the FIR. It is to be noted that the TMC candidate who is also a Minister of state government was actually at the spot to iron out the differences between the two factions of the ruling party immediately before the murder took place. Similarly, we are forwarding the representation of the West Bengal Left Front Committee pertaining to similar role of the police in 9-Tufanganj AC in Coochbehar district (Annexure V).
We are forwarding certain representations from CPI(M) West Bengal State Committee and the West Bengal Left Front Committee. The first pertains to distribution of postal ballots (Annexure VI). The second pertains to proposal of non-government employees to act as Presiding Officer and handling of nomination filing by contractual employee (Annexure VII). Further, we are forwarding a request for appointment of Additional Second Polling Officer to check EPICs and for maintaining an orderly queue of the voters (Annexure VIII).
We are also forwarding another representation of the CPI(M) West Bengal State Committee. It deals with an extremely sensitive issue of the repair of defective voting machines (Annexure IX).
In continuation of our earlier concern on the widely reported prevalence of fire arms and other explosives and the reported attempts by the ECI to address this critical area, the actual amount which has been recovered so far is largely inadequate and shows only the tip of the iceberg. The progress on the question of arrests of criminals is also quite tardy. There are reports that the police and the government lawyers are conniving in allowing bail applications to succeed. Similarly, on the question of money influencing the polls post-Ponzi scheme scams and the subsequent Narada sting operation revelations have only compounded the apprehensions among the people. A strong view of the EC to reassure the public of effective action on the issue by the EC is of utmost necessity.
Finally, the attempts by the higher echelons of the ruling party, including the CM herself, to, on the one hand, intimidate the voters and, on the other, to challenge the legitimacy of the EC, continues unabated. We would particularly point out the threats held out by the CM and Anubrata Mondal, TMC Birbhum District President. No response has yet been expressed by the EC so far. With all humility, we would like to point out that an absence of a strong reaction is eroding the confidence of the people. And, we are forwarding a representation of the CPI(M) West Bengal State Committee (Annexure X) regarding the provocative election speech by TMC leader Abhisek Banerjee, MP. This also calls for immediate response.
Member, Central Secretariat