March 26, 2009


KOLKATA(INN): Two serious charges have been levelled against the Election Commission of India (ECI) by the CPI (M). One deals with the time allotted to the different political parties with whom the ECI interacted at the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata on 19 March. The second is concerned with the order in which the political parties were called up for the tête-à-têtes.

The first concerned the order in which the political parties were called up. The ECI chose ostensibly an alphabetical order to call up the leaders of the different, national, and state, parties present on the day. They first called upon the AIFB. To the surprise of everyone, the Trinamul Congress that goes by the grand name of All-India Trinamul Congress in the official ECI documents was not called thereafter. The Trinamuli chiefs were in fact called up at the end the session.

Thus by the time the Trinamulis trooped in the ECI was aware of the say-so of all the Left parties who had duly been called in alphabetical order. In a protest letter, Biman Basu has said that the ECI should follow a single norm. Either it must prefer the alphabetical order, or it should go by the national / state status of the concerned parties. It chose to follow both, one set of norms for the Trinamulis and another set for the rest of the parties including the new-found Trinamuli political dost, the Pradesh Congress.

Second, the political parties were each allocated time slots of ten minutes each for interaction with the ECI, and this included the Pradesh Congress. However, it was found that the Trinamulis were allowed nearly an hour’s worth of time when they went to meet the ECI. The CPI (M) has pointed this pout in a letter to the ECI and has asked for clarification. We are left wondering what the discussion was going on about. The Trinamuli chieftains would not speak to the media when they finally came out, smiles pasted on their visages.

At the meeting, in the ten minutes worth of time the CPI (M) leaders led by Party CCM Madan Ghosh pointed to the following emergent issues, among others, that needed redresssal and early:

1.A situation of terror is being built up in the state with one after another leading CPI (M) workers being heinously murdered
2.The fundamentalists are on the prowl in a markedly intense manner
3.The left sectarians are active in a violent way in the red clay districts and are making it impossible for the CPI (M) to carry out election campaign
4.Opposition candidates are flouting the election code in a variety of manners including coming up with what amounted to graft, and include various infrastructural assurances
5.Walls of government and quasi-governments were being written on with graffiti by the opposition
6.The two official media of Akashvani and Doordarshan were patently biased against the CPI (M) and for the parties of the ruling classes

The CPI (M) asked the ECI to seal the interstate and the international border around Bengal during the poll period. They also asked the ECI to look into instances where the number of voters has suddenly increased, out of expectation.
By B. Prasant

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