March 22, 2009

Poll panel 'discriminatory', says West Bengal's Left Front

KOLKATA,21 March: West Bengal's ruling Left Front is upset with the Election Commission for meeting members of the opposition Trinamool Congress for a longer period than representatives of other parties, including the communists. The poll panel officials had come to West Bengal on a two-day visit during which they held discussions with political parties, giving each party 10 minutes.
However, the Trinamool Congress had a 40-minute meeting with the poll panel officials. The communists have sought a clarification from the Election Commission on the issue. "We want to know on what basis the Election Commission had called the political parties, national as well as state-level, for election-related interaction. They have to explain whether they had called the parties by following an alphabetical order or they had first called the state-level parties and then the national parties," state Left Front chairman Biman Basu said at a press conference here Saturday.
He said the central Election Commission team first called the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) for the interaction at Raj Bhavan. "So the very next, they should have called All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) if they followed an alphabetical order. But they did not do that. The CEC team called AITC at the end. "When every political party - including Indian National Congress (INC), Communist Party of India (Marxist)-CPI(M), Communist Party of India (CPI) - was given only 10 minutes for their dialogue with the CEC team, the AITC got 40 minutes," Basu said.
He continued: "Of course, they (the election commissioners) have certain constitutional powers but that does not mean they can follow a discriminatory process. They should maintain a neutral stand between all political parties." Basu said the Left Front would seek clarification from the election commission on the issue and might write to the panel demanding an explanation.

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