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Leaflet row rocks IMA poll

Controversy has broken out in the Indian Medical Association (IMA) over the inclusion of the election commissioner’s name on campaign leaflets of left candidates for internal elections.

Anti-left members of the Calcutta branch of the IMA, the largest association of doctors in Bengal, have lodged a protest with the Delhi office, claiming that pro-CPM Bengal branch officials have violated norms by using commissioner M.C. Banerjee’s name on the leaflets.

“We were shocked to see the name of the election commissioner on the leaflets. This is violation of election rules,” said Ashok Ghoshal, secretary, IMA Calcutta branch. After the December 15 elections and declaration of results by the year-end, they may also move court, he said.

The election commissioner said he was in the dark. “Nobody took my permission. I will take action against those behind this,” said Banerjee.

Calcutta branch members have, apparently, roped in a number of former CPM supporters to contest the elections, including Debabrata De, brother of Partha De, former health minister in the Jyoti Basu government.

Moloy Patra, secretary, Bengal branch, who is contesting the post for the third time, said the branch had nothing to do with the leaflets. “We are not aware of it and cannot be held responsible. This may be a campaign to malign us,” alleged Patra.

IMA officials may set up a tribunal after the elections to hear out both parties. “If the election commission is found guilty of the charges, the ongoing elections could be declared null and void,” said R.D. Dubey, joint secretary (headquarters).

Elections are held on postal ballots. Secretaries of the branches hand over the ballots to members to sign and submit. These are then sent to the state branch for counting. This year, according to the Calcutta branch, several anti-left units haven’t received ballots. “This means they will not be able to submit ballot papers before the December 15 deadline,” Ghoshal added. Bengal branch office-bearers blamed postal services for the delay.

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