Thursday, May 15, 2014
The CPI(M) has demanded that the Election Commission of India take “necessary measures and make proper preparations to ensure that the democratic verdict of the people is not manipulated further at the stage of the counting of votes” in West Bengal. In a letter addressed to the Commission by Polit Bureau Member, Sitaram Yechury, the Party has suggested among other things provision of adequate security for the counting agents of all parties. The Party has expressed the apprehension that the widespread violence and intimidation witnessed during the last phase of polling in West Bengal will find reflection during the counting process also.
The full text of the letter is given below:
May 15, 2014
The Chief Election Commissioner
Election Commission of India
I have been seeking an appointment with the Election Commission since the afternoon of May 14 to convey our serious apprehensions regarding the possible disruption and manipulation of the counting process in the state of West Bengal. This appointment however has not materialized so far. Hence this letter urging the Election Commission to take the necessary measures and make proper preparations to ensure that the democratic verdict of the people is not manipulated further at the stage of the counting of votes.
There is a widespread apprehension that violence and intimidation that was widely seen during the last phase of polling in West Bengal will find a reflection during the counting process as well. The reasons for this apprehension are two-fold. First, massive manipulation of the counting process was done during the recently concluded local body elections in the state. Though the counting for the Lok Sabha elections will be done under the supervision of the Election Commission, there is a widespread belief that similar tactics, as seen during the local body elections, will be replicated. Secondly, the widespread violence, terror and intimidation during the polling process shows that the ruling party in the state, Trinamool Congress, is desperate to manipulate the people’s mandate in all possible ways.
In view of such apprehensions, we are suggesting that the EC should display utmost vigilance, provide adequate security for the counting agents of all parties and other such measures. These are outlined in the enclosed letters from the Chairman of the Left Front Committee of West Bengal, which have already been sent to you directly. The same concerns have been raised with the CEO, West Bengal and the Special Observer.
May I request you to consider these suggestions with the seriousness that the situation warrants in the state of West Bengal. To ensure that the counting of votes proceeds smoothly, these suggestions must be acted upon urgently and firmly.
From many counting centres in the state, such apprehensions are pouring in seeking proper security arrangements during the counting process. Similarly, instances of how efforts are being made to prepare from manipulating the counting process are also pouring in from many centres. There are reports that EVMs are not properly protected and in some instances, no elections official has been assigned duty to remain at the centre during the night. There are also reports that the identity cards of counting agents from the opposition parties have been forcibly acquired by the ruling party, so that they can prevent the counting agents of opposition parties from being present and hence facilitate the manipulation of the counting. These are based on verified reports. Therefore, we are urging the EC not to dismiss such apprehensions as mere allegations.
I am enclosing, as a sample of such concerns based on concrete evidence, two letters. One letter is from the Secretary of the Hooghly District Committee of the CPI(M) and another from the Chairman, Left Front Committee, West Bengal, so that you are familiarized with the ground realities in the state.
I am also enclosing the text of an interview that appeared on the front page of the largest circulated Bengali newspaper – one of the largest circulated dailies in the country – the Ananda Bazar Patrika on May 14. The interview is with the Special Observer appointed by the Election Commission to oversee the election process in the state. Media reports inform that this observer, Shri Sudhir Kumar Rakesh has returned to his original duties in his parent state the moment polling ended on May 12. Hence it is possible that no such oversight by an observer appointed by the Election Commission would be there on the counting day. The interview is in Bengali with the gist in English appended at the end. Since I am aware that one of the honourable Election Commissioners is familiar with Bengali language you can have the benefit of the original transcript without being subjected to possible distortions in a free translation. This interview speaks for itself on the degree of malpractices that have occurred during the polling process in the state of West Bengal.
May I hope that you will take these suggestions seriously and do the needful.
Member, Polit Bureau
1. Three letters written by the Chairman, Left Front Committee, West Bengal
2. A letter from the Secretary of the CPI(M) Hooghly District Committee
3. The transcript of the interview that appeared in the Ananda Bazar Patrika of observer Shri Sudhir Kumar Rakesh on May 14, 2014