The opposition parties in West Bengal Friday, in unison, demanded recall of Election Commission’s Special Observer in state Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, alleging that he had been mute spectator to the mayhem unleashed by Trinamool Congress in the third phase of elections that took place on April 30.
A delegation of four Left Front parties met chief election commissioner V S Sampat in Delhi and placed the demand while the Congress and the BJP did the same in Kolkata.
“Our agents and candidates could not get Rakesh on telephone, nor through SMS on the day of polling on April 30 despite repeated efforts. We can not trust him,” state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.
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“We demand his withdrawal from the state. It is difficult to hold peaceful election if he continues here. We cannot rely on him,” Chowdhury added..
The BJP said that though it did not demand Rakesh’s recall, it wanted that he take special measures to ensure free and fair election in the state.
“We requested Rakesh to ensure that voters could cast their votes in a peaceful manner,” Rahul Sinha, BJP state president, who led a party delegation to meet Rakesh in the morning, told The Indian Express.
On Thursday, Left Front chairman Biman Bose had questioned the special observer’s credentials and demanded that he be removed. “In Patna he is a tiger but in Kolkata he becomes a cat. The central forces are enjoying… eating and drinking…as votes have been looted from the booths. Rakesh is good for nothing. He should be recalled immediately,” Bose said.
However, when contacted, Rakesh said he would not make any comment in this regard. “I have nothing to say,” Rakesh said. A 1983-batch IAS officer, he was sent to Bengal last week to keep a close watch on the poll process and report to the commission.
Taking cognisance of complaints, the Election Commission said it is examining the matter. EC sources said a video recording of alleged rigging of booths will also be examined along with complaints that Rakesh made no attempt to act on specific cases mentioned by political parties to them.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Left leaders met chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta and requested him to ensure free and fair elections in the state. The delegation submitted a memorandum signed by intellectuals and leaders like former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, actor Saumitra Chatterjee, film maker Buddhadeb Dasgupta, educationist Amiya Kumar Bagchi, to name a few.
“It has been witnessed in the mass media, violence and muscle power dominated poll process to a considerable extent. We appeal to you to intervene immediately and take measures to restore public confidence in the state’s democratic process,” the memorandum said.
After the third phase election in nine constituencies on April 30, while BJP demanded re-election in all the constituencies, both the CPIM and Congress called the election a farce and accused the commission, Rakesh in particular, of failing in its duty of ensuring free and fair elections.