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Trinamul walks out of EC mike-ban meeting

The Election Commission’s all-party meeting with the pollution control board (PCB) on Tuesday ended in a stalemate after the Trinamul Congress walked out, questioning the poll panel’s right to make parties meet the green body.

Bengal’s chief electoral officer Sunil Kumar Gupta had convened the meeting on the use of microphones during the campaign. But Trinamul, which has refused to comply with PCB’s orders regarding the matter, claiming the high court’s directives had been misinterpreted, refused to participate in it.

“The commission has no right asking parties to sit with the PCB. We will only accept the judiciary’s verdict on the microphone ban and not an executive order (from PCB),” said Trinamul leader Mukul Roy after walking out of the meeting.

Gupta, however, said the commission was “well within its rights” to convene the meeting.

Trinamul says the high court never ordered a blanket ban on microphones during the examination season.

“The court order, which stipulated the use of microphones with certain restrictions, has been misinterpreted,” said Roy.

The Congress and the CPM, too, had earlier protested the ban.

The high court order bans the use of microphones in the open till the completion of all major examinations — till April 13.

“If such a ban is followed, we will not be able to campaign in the six districts of north Bengal which go to poll on April 18,” said Roy.

CPM’s Rabin Deb and others from various parties also criticised the EC for drawing up the poll schedule knowing well that the timeline for campaigning would run into difficulties.

The parties also requested the commission to ensure an hour’s extension of the deadline on the use of microphones after the exam season.

“Use of microphones is allowed till 10pm. We asked for an extension till 11pm for the campaign,” said Deb.

PCB’s chief law officer Biswajit Mukherjee said the parties have been asked to appeal through the poll panel for the green body’s consideration of the request.

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