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Cong in voter list row

Berhampore, Nov. 12: The Murshidabad district Congress, which had won a resounding victory in the last Berhampore municipal election, was today caught on the wrong foot with the chairman’s name figuring twice on the voters’ list. The Berhampore municipality goes to polls on November 30 along with three other municipal bodies in the state.

Acting convener of the district Left Front committee and CPM leader Nripen Chowdhury said this morning that municipal chairman Nilratan Adhya’s name was found twice on the electoral rolls. Adhya is seeking re-election from ward 17 as a Congress nominee.

“Adhya’s name appears with the serial number 225 of part number 224 of the voters’ list for ward 17 which happens to be his constituency. The same name can be seen with the serial number 645 of part number 227 of the electoral rolls,” Chowdhury said. He urged the state election commission to cancel Adhya’s nomination in view of “this gross violation of electoral rules”.

Ashis Mukherjee, sub-divisional officer, Berhampore and returning officer for the ensuing polls, however, insisted that the appearance of a candidate’s name at two places in the voters’ list does not warrant cancellation of his nomination. “There will be no violation of electoral rules if the concerned candidate urges the state election commission to delete his name from one part of the electoral rolls. We cannot entertain any fresh complaint regarding the voters’ list which was finalised towards the end of September,” he said.

Adhya, too, asserted that he would write to the commission to delete his name from one part of the list. “I did not know that my name had figured twice on the electoral rolls,” he said.

K.K. Chakraborty, secretary of the state election commissioner, said in Calcutta that a candidate could apply for deletion of the name in one of the places if it appears twice in the voters’ list. “I feel that this does not warrant cancellation of the candidate’s nomination,” he added.

Chowdhury also charged the district Congress and a section of police with “unleashing terror and creating an atmosphere of violence with a view to winning the municipal elections”. He said the Left Front would cash in on the Congress’ misdeeds during campaign for the municipality polls.

District Congress leader and MP Adhir Chowdhury denied the allegation, saying CPM leaders appeared determined to win a “few seats this time by hook or by crook”.

He pointed out that the Congress had won all the 23 seats in the 1998 municipal polls. “Naturally, the Marxists are desperate to ensure the victory of their nominees at some wards and have joined hands with a section of police for this purpose. If they try to harm our party in any manner, we will not hesitate to call a 72-hour district bandh,” Chowdhury said.

District superintendent of police, Gyanwant Singh, however, claimed that arrangements were being made to ensure a free and fair election on November 30. “The district police will not succumb to any kind of political pressure. The administration has taken adequate preparations to make the elections free and fair,” he asserted.

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