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EC bans poll campaign in schools,parties up in arms

All political parties today closed ranks following an Election Commission directive banning campaigning in school premises.

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata |
February 26, 2009 3:00:54 am

All political parties today closed ranks following an Election Commission (EC) directive banning campaigning in school premises. After the chief electoral officer (CEO) informed them about the directive,parties were prompt to oppose the order and forced the CEO to write to the EC for a reconsideration on the order.

“I shall write to the EC to consider views of the political parties,but hence it is an order,it should be followed properly. Otherwise,action according to the code of conduct will be taken against any offender,” said CEO Debasis Sen while emerging from an all-party meeting held to discuss EC’s current directives.

Sources in the CEO office said the latest directive landed here recently,asking to ban any political campaign inside educational institutions during the Lok Sabha polls. Around 70,000 school premises or playgrounds are often used for electioneering by political parties,especially by the ruling CPM. Most of the school committees are run by local CPM cadres. “Even school committee’s permission would not be acceptable for holding political campaign,” said Sen.

“We want to hold rallies after the school hours. Open grounds are scarce in Bengal. We see no problem if rallies and meetings are being held without hampering classes,” said Rabin Deb,who attended the meeting as the CPM representative.

CEO said a political party can apply to hold a rally on school ground only in case if open ground is not available in the same area. The application should be endorsed by the local police station. “I can forward the application to the EC,which can take a final decision,” said CEO. “The EC has already said in its order that exceptional cases can be considered. But for each case,there should be separate application,” he said.

Apart from the CPM,representatives from the BJP,Congress and Trinamool have also opposed the EC directive.

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