z Stay in safe shelters,keep changing your night shelter
z Move in groups as there are chances of attacks and abductions
z Do not address public programmes without leaderships approval and without informing authorities
z Move with mobile cameras and capture images in case of attack
If this reads like a war-time manual,think again. The rules are part of an advisory issued by the CPM for its cadres who are filing nominations for the upcoming panchayat elections.
Apprehending attacks and abduction attempts on its candidates,the CPM today came up with a list of dos and donts to protect them. The advisory,with strict orders for compliance,was necessary given the combat-like situation,party leaders said.
According to the advisory,candidates must keep changing their night shelters. As long as the poll process continues from filing of nominations,which began today,to holding of the three-phase polls candidates should see that they are not easily targeted by the adversary.
The candidates have also been advised to be on guard all the time and move in groups while going to file nominations,as there are high chances of attacks and abduction attempts. During the campaign,the candidates must always be surrounded by reliable party supporters to resist possible attacks by the ruling party.
Former CPM panchayat minister Anisur Rahman,who is overseeing the panchayat elections on behalf of the party,said: We are facing attacks from political opponents in several areas. Today,the first day of nomination filing,several of our candidates were injured. We have to treat these as a combat situation. We are trying to keep the candidates safe.
Some of the more innovative steps include directives for candidates to go into hiding after the campaign period is over. They have been advised to go underground and even shift to other districts once the campaign in their respective constituencies are over. They should stay in safe shelters till counting is over,and not address rallies or attend public programmes without approval of the senior leadership and without informing the local civil and police authorities.
All candidates must move with mobile cameras and capture every possible image in case of violence or attacks. The captured footage would be used as evidence,the party advises.
A senior CPM leader said,Our candidates may be abducted and forced to withdraw nominations. But we have been strictly directed by the party that candidates have to be fielded at every seat under any circumstances. The district-level leaders were given the responsibility to ensure protection as well as participation in the polls. There is fear among the CPM leadership that many party comrades in the rural belt may want to opt out of the contest.
Sujon Chakraborty,CPM district committee secretary of South 24 Parganas,said,Today at least 10 workers were critically injured while filing nomination in Bhangar. They were attacked by armed TMC goons. But our party has told us to fight this situation.
Amol Haldar,district secretary of Burdwan district,alleged that at least two partymen were kidnapped and more than eight persons hospitalised when they went to file nomination papers in Khandaghosh and Raina. But the party has directed us to field candidates at every panchayat seat at any cost, he added.
Asked about the CPM advisory,Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said: The CPM has become a party of lunatics. They are afraid of facing the contest.
Sishir Adhikari,TMC MP from East Midnapore,said: It is all over for the CPM in the panchayats. They do not exists any more in the rural belts of Bengal. They exists only on paper.