The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM clampdown to leash loose cannons

Calcutta, April 7: The CPM today asked leaders and supporters across Bengal to refrain from making disparaging remarks about the Election Commission.

'We have asked our workers and members not to make adverse comments against the Election Commission. (The) EC is all powerful these days,' Jyoti Basu said tonight.

The CPM patriarch added that grassroot-level workers, too, should not get involved in confrontations with the commission. 'We want it to play an impartial role and conduct free and fair polls.'

Left red-faced by transport minister Subhas Chakraborty's comment on election officials ' he said they were acting as EC stooges despite being on the government's payrolls ' the party discussed the clampdown at today's meeting of the secretariat, its highest policy-making body at the state level.

Many members apparently pointed out there that Chakraborty should not have made such a remark. The CPM and the minister, against whom a police complaint has been filed, have had to give written explanations to the commission.

State party secretary and Left Front chairman Biman Bose told reporters after the meeting that party members have been told to inform the leadership if they have complaints against the commission. 'Alimuddin Street will take up the complaints with the EC.'

He went to Basu's Salt Lake home in the evening.

Basu said: 'I also asked Biman to exercise restraint while referring to (the) EC.'

Bose had been just that earlier in the day, at his first news conference since taking over as the Bengal party chief on March 31. 'We have written six letters to the EC pointing out our complaints but we have not received any replies yet,' he said, stopping short of criticising the commission.

On the police complaint, he said: 'I can only say this much ' it was lodged even after party general secretary Prakash Karat apologised and Chakraborty regretted the remarks.'

Bose was equally cautious when his attention was drawn to the midnight raid on the party office at Keshpur in West Midnapore. He said: 'It was carried out on the basis of complaints from the local Trinamul Congress MLA. We shall take the matter to the people's court. They are the best judge.'

A fortnight ago, the CPM leader had lashed out at election observers for entertaining all complaints lodged by the Opposition parties and deleting names of 'genuine voters'.

The CPM's Midnapore leadership had accused observer Dipak Prasad of verbally ordering the administration to shift officials associated with the polls. CPM leaders in Burdwan had cried foul as observer R.N. Dash took the local Trinamul MLA with him to inquire into illegal mining in Asansol.

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