The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Partisan slur on poll staff

Siliguri, March 30: The SFI today sought to embarrass the Trinamul Congress after a Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) official engaged in election duty was allegedly caught operating from a party councillor's office at Phuleshwari in Ward 24 here.

The event unfolded this morning when some 'residents' took exception to the way Sajjal Ghosh, SMC-appointed ward master of Ward 24, was allegedly found sitting in the local office of the Trinamul. Ghosh was apparently preparing a list of names of people deemed to be prima facie non-residents of the locality. It was said that he was contemplating issuing notices to them seeking proof of their residence.

The 'residents' held a demonstration in front of the Trinamul office, after which some activists of the SFI ' the students' wing of the CPM ' led by its district president Shankar Ghosh reached the spot. They immediately called the police, who escorted the ward master to the SMC office. 'The Trinamul is out to deprive legitimate voters from getting their names registered in the voters' list by adopting such unfair means. We will expose their true colours,' said Ghosh.

The Trinamul, which has been crying hoarse about alleged anomalies in the preparation of electoral rolls, however, accused the SFI of making baseless charges. 'Ghosh is the local ward master who needs to interact regularly with the local councillor because of his job. What's wrong with that' asked Gautam Deb, the district president of the Trinamul.

He said no one has the right to delete the names of the voters arbitrarily. 'Ghosh was assigned by the SMC to carry out the task of helping the election authorities in the preparation of rolls. He, at best, can send a report to the election officers. In any case, if anybody feels he is acting in a partisan manner, they can lodge a complaint with the appropriate authorities,' Deb added. Notably, the councillor of Ward 24, Bharati Bhusan, is the sister of Pratul Chakraborty, the Trinamul's candidate for the Siliguri Assembly seat and a resident of the area.

The SFI, meanwhile, submitted a mass petition to sub-divisional officer Bidyut Bhattacharya, demanding action against the SMC official. Bhattacharya, in turn, forwarded the petition to the additional district magistrate, Siliguri, P. Zimba and chief executive officer of SMC Samir Banerjee.

'I have asked the finance officer, who is looking after election matters, to inquire into the incident,' said Banerjee.

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