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Hasem poll quit warning

Malda, Feb. 3: Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury, the Malda district Congress president, has said he has informed the Election Commission that the Congress would “think of pulling out” of the Englishbazar bypoll if the district magistrate remained in her post.

The state Congress leadership did not attach much importance to the announcement by Congress MP Abu Hasem, who is also a junior Union minister, and the Trinamul candidate from English Bazar. Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury, said the late Ghani Khan’s brother feared the Congress’s rout in the election and so made this announcement.

The district magistrate of Malda, Archana, will be the electoral officer in the poll, scheduled for February 23.

Abu Hasem today said the district magistrate had violated the poll model code of conduct.

“The district magistrate had organised the Malda leg of the Uttarbanga Utsav even though the bypoll date had been declared by the Election Commission,” he said.

“The Utsav took place with much fanfare on January 31 and was organised with government funds. We had complained to the Election Commission regarding this blatant violation of the code of conduct but no action was taken against the district magistrate,” the Malda South Congress MP said.

He said the Election Commission transferred the superintendent of police, Jayanta Pal, because of his involvement in the district book fair.

“The police superintendent’s transfer was done clandestinely and we are not being able to understand the reasons behind the action. We came to understand from newspaper reports that the police officer was transferred because of the role of the police in allowing the book fair to take place. If that is so, why should the Election Commission not take any action against the district magistrate for organising the Uttarbanga Utsav?” Abu Hasem asked.

“We had called the Election Commission and were told that the officials would be available on Monday. However, we have informed the Election Commission that the Congress would seriously think of pulling out of the bypolls if the present district magistrate remains in her post as she has been working for the electoral interests of a particular political party,” Hasem said.

Krishnendu attributed the Congress’s allegations to its sense of insecurity “as the… leadership is feeling that the chances of their candidate winning are remote”.

State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said tonight: “There is no question of withdrawing our candidate from the Englishbazar Assembly seat where a bypoll will be held on February 23.”

Gautam Deb, north Bengal development minister whose department organised the Utsav, said: “We had permission from the Election Commission which allowed the function with certain restrictions.”