THE STATE Congress on Tuesday demanded the removal of Bengal Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sunil Gupta, claiming that he was acting at the behest of the ruling Trinamool Congress. It also sought the removal of state Deputy Election Commissioner Sandip Saxena.
This comes a day after the CPM and the Congress, complained to the Election Commission (EC) on the alleged use of violence by ruling party in the first phase of polling, held on two days a week apart.
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In a letter to the EC, state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury claimed that in spite of “pictorial evidence in both print and electronic media”, the CEO has refused to take action against trouble-makers. “Sunil Gupta is not beyond suspicion… We have reasons to believe that he is working at the instructions of the ruling party. We immediately demand his removal CEO and also the removal of Sandip Saxena, deputy election commissioner, who have not acted according to rules and failed to ensure free and fair polls,” the letter stated.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, alleging that the CEO has failed to take appropriate action against trouble makers, said that anticipating violence, he had told the EC about the party’s concerns for the security of CPM workers, but no action was taken.
“The confidence of the common people has broken down. We are not demanding a repoll because we don’t have the confidence that justice will be served… In a public rally, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said that Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra should be defeated from Narayangarh… No action has been taken against her,” Yechury added.
Meanwhile, the BJP on Tuesday complained to the EC about the alleged use of violence by the Trinamool in the first phase of polling. Accusing the ruling party of letting blatantly using “crime and terror”, BJP asked the EC to ensure free and fair polls in the remaining phases. A party delegation met top EC officials in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum, in which they also said most poll observers are “neither visible nor available and are completely incommunicado”.
“Several requests made to the Commission in our earlier meeting have still not been addressed and we request that it be done now and the BJP be apprised of the action taken. We request the Commission to ensure that the Chief Electoral Officer of West Bengal and officers on election duty fully conform to fair practices and instructions issued by you to ensure free and fair elections and are available to respond to issues,” the memorandum signed by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, party general secretary Bhupender Yadav, secretary Sidharth Nath Singh and Om Pathak said.
Citing local media reports, they alleged it bear “ample testimony to the corrupt and criminal practices” deployed by the state government.
The incidents are just a sample of widespread malaise of crime and terror, apprehended earlier and manifest now in full abundance in the first phase of the poll, they added.
The party had requested for flag marches and patrolling in sensitive and extra sensitive constituencies but this is not being conducted despite assurances by the Commission, they said. “Despite detailed rules and procedures prescribed by the Commission, the widespread incidents of bogus voting after the formal closure of voting continue unabated,” they told the Commission.
“We request the Commission to order effective steps to stop use of muscle power and take effective steps to create an atmosphere of free and fair elections,” they said, seeking deployment of central forces and making observers and micro- observers visible on ground.
Expressing displeasure over incidents of violence in the first phase of elections, the CPM Politburo too on Tuesday urged the EC to ensure free and fair voting in the remaining five phases covering 245 Assembly constituencies.
“We are shocked by the manner in which the process of free and fair elections has been disrupted and undermined by miscreants backed by the ruling Trinamool Congress in Bengal on April 11 — the second day of polling,” the Politburo said in a statement.
“The events of the second day of polling in West Bengal included attacks on the Opposition, intimidation of voters through violence and denial of democratic rights to candidates by stopping their polling agents from being present in polling booths. What happened is a reflection of the failure to implement the assurances the EC itself had given to the West Bengal electorate,” it added.