The Election Commission (EC) issued a showcause notice for the second time to controversial Trinamool Congress Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal on Saturday.
“Based on the complaints of BJP leader Locket Chatterjee and the findings the EC about some remarks made by Mondal referring to leaders like Adhir Chowdhury, Biman Bose, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Surjya Kanta Mishra, he was showcaused last night. Owing to some technicalities, the letter could not be delivered to him last night. It has been done this morning,” said Additional Chief Electoral Officer Dibyendu Sarkar told mediapersons on Saturday.
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On April 11, EC had issued a showcause notice to Mondal over his alleged derogatory remarks on BJP’s Locket Chatterjee. When contacted, Mondal said: “I have signed blank letterheads ready at my office. Someone or the other will type out something and send it to the EC.”
Meanwhile, the EC on Saturday “specifically instructed” the Birbhum district magistrate to advice Mondal, who has been put under 24×7 surveillance, not to move beyond his constituency. “The advice has been communicated to Mondal,” Sarkar said.
On Friday, the EC had issued instructions to keep Mondal under 24×7 surveillance of the central forces in the presence of a magistrate during the entire election period. Sarkar, however, said no political leader — whether he is a candidate or a voter or an election agent — would be able to move out of his voting area till the polls were over. “This is not specifically for Mondal only. This is Commission’s instruction,” Sarkar said.
He added that Mandal has been put under complete surveillance till the election process is over (May 22). “But surveillance does not mean that there is restriction on his movements. The surveillance is specially on his activities specially public utterances and public meetings and those will be put on record,” Sarkar said. This would be done by personnel of central forces, some videographers and one person of the rank of a magistrate, he added. However, there would be no restriction on Mondal’s campaigning.
Asked about allegations that keeping Mondal under surveillance has not been effective, Sarkar said: “His public utterances have been restricted and his movement is being monitored.” On the deputy magistrate not attending from Mondal’s closed-door meetings, he said: “The privacy of an individual should not be invaded. He is there to keep a watch on Mondal’s movements.”
The Opposition, however, termed the EC surveillance as ineffective. “The EC should take note. We had earlier expressed our doubts regarding keeping Mondal in a surveillance of this kind. With smartphones at hand, he doesn’t need to go anywhere physically. He will try to unleash all sorts of terror on voters,” said state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury.
Senior CPM leader Rabin Deb claimed the EC monitoring was a farce. “We are not satisfied with the role of the EC. It should have taken stricter steps against people like Mondal,” he said.
BJP national secretary and former state president Rahul Sinha said the party was gathering inputs on how Mondal has been “violating” EC rules. “We will lodge a complaint with the EC,” he added.