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Party says EC decisions ‘partisan, biased’: TMC demands police be allowed near polling booths, tally of all VVPATs

“It is becoming increasingly clear that free, fair and transparent elections in the state of West Bengal is becoming a distant reality,” said the letter, which was signed by TMC MPs Derek O'Brien, Saugata Roy and Mahua Moitra among others.

Written by Dipankar Ghose | New Delhi |
Updated: March 20, 2021 4:40:00 am
Election Commission, TMC, West Bengal Assembly elections 2021, Kolkata news, Bengal news, indian express newsDerek O'Brien

A delegation of senior TMC leaders met with officials of the Election Commission (EC) on Friday, objecting to recent decisions taken by the body and calling their approach “partisan and biased”.

The TMC and the EC have had a frosty relationship of late, with the ruling party in West Bengal having questioned the commission’s decisions and accusing it of acting in favour of the BJP.

The TMC continued to question the EC in a letter submitted Friday.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that free, fair and transparent elections in the state of West Bengal is becoming a distant reality. This is evident from the partisan and biased approach taken by the EC in respect of the ongoing elections in the state,” said the letter, which was signed by TMC MPs Derek O’Brien, Saugata Roy and Mahua Moitra as well as former BJP leader and Union minister Yashwant Sinha, who recently joined the party.

The party took umbrage over media reports of an EC decision that state police personnel would not be allowed within 100 metres of polling stations.

“It has been reported in the media that the EC has decided to not permit the presence of state police within 100 metres of polling stations and only deploy Central Forces in such an arena. If true, this decision is unprecedented and casts severe aspersions on the reputation of the police administration in the state of West Bengal,” the letter states.

Sources in the EC told The Indian Express that it has not prohibited the state police’s presence but rather, the instruction is meant for the civic police, who are civic volunteers who are deployed in aid of the state police. They do not have legal police powers but aid in maintenance of order and traffic control usually.

The second issue raised by the TMC was a demand of the tally of all VVPAT machines, which they claimed have been “summarily dismissed… allegedly on account of the Supreme Court of India decision in March 2019”.

“It may be noted that the very purpose of installing VVPAT machines are considerable cost has deliberately been made redundant and ineffective. We may remind you, that not only was the said judgement primarily meant for the 2019 general elections but that the law insists that every time EVMs are used, there must be a sui generis consideration of facts, circumstances and necessities,” the letter states.

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