West Bengal LF Delegation Meets Election Commission
A delegation of the West Bengal Left Front committee led by Biman Basu, chairman and accompanied by the CPI(M) leader in Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury met the Election Commission of India on April 1, 2014 regarding the issue of conducting free and fair Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal and submitted a memorandum. It also enclosed a list of 35 letters written to the EC since December 19, 2013. The delegation comprised Rabin Deb from CPI (M), Manju Kumar Majumder from CPI, Joyanta Roy from All India Forward Bloc and Manoj Bhattacharya from Revolutionary Socialist Party. Below we reproduce the text of the memorandum. THERE are serious problems that the election process in West Bengal is facing now. Numerous violations of model code of conduct (MCC) by the All India Trinamul Congress leaders including chief minister, ministers and workers are taking place. Assaults, molestations of women and murderous attacks on workers of opposition parties are still continuing in the run-up to the polls marred by an atmosphere of terror. Framing of fabricated allegations and cases are also continuing against the Left Front activists in different parts of the state. This is creating unprecedented tensions prohibiting the holding of free and fair elections in the state. 1. We met you on December 19, 2013 at Nirvachan Sadan. We placed before you some documents on how the Panchayat elections-2013 in West Bengal were vitiated by the acts of violence perpetrated by the ruling party at every stage of the election process: campaign, filing of nominations, withdrawal, polling, counting, formation of elected bodies and even killing of five elected members including office bearers. This time also violence has already been unleashed by the ruling party on the opposition during campaigns and deliberate violations of MCC have been continuing since the announcement of the election schedule. The unabashed bias of the police raises apprehensions of a collapse of law and order during the April-May elections and the inability of the people to have a free and fair election. Moreover, now, the general law and order situation is far from satisfactory. 2. In blatant disregard of rules of law and persistent misuse of power, the workers of the ruling party have driven out many voters from their villages and obstructed the displaced voters in returning to their homes. Adequate arrangements should be made, so that the evicted persons can exercise their voting rights and can stay in their residence without any fear and terror psychosis. 3. The leaders and workers of the ruling party have been threatening the supporters of opposition parties, tearing off its posters and other publicity materials, ransacking and torching the offices of Left parties and even the residences of Left supporters. The sole purpose of the miscreants is to terrorise people so that they stay away from exercising their voting rights. In every case, the police have been informed. Mostly, they have remained mute spectators and in some cases arrested the victims on false allegations while allowing the AITC miscreants to go scot free. In Coochbehar, police in connivance with the ruling party has resorted to unleashing terror tactics. In Malda, the OC of Harishchandrapur PS violated the MCC. Now he is doing everything against the Left Parties in a vindictive manner due to his political bias. We urge upon you to take proper steps against such other officials within both police and general administration, who are guilty of partiality and bias. At the same time, the officials who work impartially in order to strengthen the democratic processes are being manhandled and threatened. (Telegraph March 30, Kolkata Edition, page 1.) Even the ruling party dissidents are being attacked and their inner party clashes have become a day to day affair. The situation demands for posting the Police Observers in all 42 PCs in West Bengal to ensure the objective of the EC for smooth, free and fair election. 4. Without the concurrence of the EC, the state government has issued funds worth more than Rs 88 lakh to be distributed in Bankura district alone, among sports/cultural clubs and individual players. Obviously, this is being done with an eye on influencing voters. It is likely that such distribution of funds is taking place in other districts and this needs your urgent intervention and necessary action. It is only after our complaint that the DM, Bankura said that money has not been distributed but since beneficiaries are named, the purpose has been served and intention is clear. 5. We are bringing a further serious issue to your notice, something that is unprecedented in the state. Important electoral duties are being assigned to re-employed persons, contractual employees and volunteers. Such persons have neither any obligation to the ECI nor the required expertise. Creating the above mentioned three categories, instead of using the many permanent employees who are available, is obviously a result of advice given by the AITC with the objective of garnering electoral gains. 6. Superintendent of Police (SP) Paschim Medinipur, SP Bardhaman, SP Bankura and SP Nadia are behaving in a partisan manner. They are biased in favour of the ruling party. The SP, Paschim Medinipur is arresting Left workers on false allegations. In contravention of MCC, she conferred with Mukul Roy, MP and the leader of AITC at Midnapur Circuit House, where proposed candidates of AITC were also present. 7. Some of the prominent leaders and workers of AITC have got their names enlisted in more than one AC. 8. At present, there is very little space for the opposition in the campaign. The Commission must take steps to ensure equal opportunity for every party. 9. In many parts of the state, everyday, the Left supporters and the general people are being threatened by the AITC asking them not to go to cast their votes. They are also being threatened that ECI or Paramilitary Forces will not stay here after the election to protect them. It is found that many prominent leaders of the AITC are adopting such tactics during their election campaign. 10. Some of the unlawful methods being adopted by the AITC could be beyond your imagination. We have mentioned some incidents in detail in our memorandum already submitted, at the time of our meeting with the CEC representative, to Vinod Zutshi, deputy election commissioner on March 25 at Kolkata. 11. We hope that you will put a stop to all these unlawful activities of the AITC being undertaken with the express backing of the state administration. The confidence of the voter has to be restored so that free and fair elections are possible in West Bengal. 12. You will be shocked to know that after the Supreme Court verdict on March 28 on the Labpur gang rape of a tribal lady, AITC workers burnt a local CPI(M) office there on the same day, around midnight.