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Trinamul’s Presi violation grouse

Calcutta, March 29: Trinamul student leader Sanku Deb Panda today complained to the state election commission against the Presidency University registrar for his failure to prevent a students’ referendum on whether Sugata Bose should resign from the mentor group as he is contesting the Lok Sabha polls.

Panda, who met state chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta, construed the students’ union-organised referendum as a violation of the Election Commission’s model code of conduct and demanded that registrar Prabir Dasgupta be taken to task.

“The referendum was politically motivated. Such a move is a violation of the model code of conduct. It is clear that the students were allowed to organise the referendum with the intention to create a negative opinion against Bose before the polls,” Panda said.

Of the 1,541 students who participated in the referendum, 78 per cent said Bose should resign. Trinamul candidate Bose’s main rival in the Lok Sabha contest, the CPM’s Sujan Chakraborty, had hinted that the Left could make it an election issue if Bose continued as a Presidency mentor.

Panda’s complaint was apparently fuelled by a perception in Trinamul that the outcome of the Presidency referendum had handed the CPM an election issue.

In his complaint, Panda has cited question No. 62 in the model code’s section on frequently asked questions, and its corresponding answer.

Question 62 reads: “Whether there is any restriction on use of educational institutions including their grounds (whether govt-aided, private or govt) for political campaigns and rallies?”

The answer reads: “Use of educational institutions including their grounds (whether govt-aided, private or govt) for political campaigns and rallies is not allowed.”

Panda has argued that supporters of CPM student wing SFI had participated in the referendum, indicating the opinion poll was “politically motivated” and hence violated the model code of conduct.

Registrar Dasgupta said he was not aware of Panda’s complaint. He refused to take the blame for the referendum, saying: “The students enjoy the democratic right to organise such a referendum and so there was no need for them to seek the permission of the university.”

He added: “The students had organised it peacefully and we would have intervened only if there had been a disturbance centring on the referendum.”

Assistant chief electoral officer Amitjyoti Bhattacharya said: “It’s not a run-of-the-mill case, not something we have to deal with frequently. So we have sent the matter for reference to the (poll) commission. We will have to see if there is a rule or guideline for something as specific as this.”


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