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Poll tune: sting, scream and say sorry

Calcutta, April 21: Trinamul MLA Manirul Islam today sent an apology to the Election Commission in response to a show-cause notice for his alleged inflammatory speech in Birbhum on Saturday.

Although the commission said the response would be looked into and then “necessary action” taken, sources said Islam, the MLA from Labhpur in Birbhum, may get away with an “official expression of displeasure” and a warning from the EC.

The Congress said if the poll panel did not take sterner action, it would mean “anybody can do anything and get away with an apology”.

Islam, asked about his letter, said today he “will not comment anything in this connection”.

The MLA had told a rally in Sainthia, Birbhum, on Saturday: “On the day of elections, don’t let the CPM, the Congress and the BJP get even one vote. You have to take this responsibility. You have to make this promise.”

In his letter to the EC, Islam said the remark was “not made deliberately”. He wrote that he was seeking apology and his remark was not meant to hurt anyone, a source familiar with the contents of the letter said.

According to poll panel sources, in many serious complaints regarding provocative speeches, the commission just made its displeasure known, despite having the power to take sterner action.

Trinamul’s Birbhum president Anubrata Mondal, the BJP’s Barasat candidate P.C. Sorcar and CPM MLA Anisur Rahaman got away with “a rap on the knuckles”. All had made insensitive campaign speeches.

“Islam’s case is unlikely to be dealt with differently. The commission, despite having the power to initiate a criminal case, is letting them off with a formal expression of displeasure, warning them against repetition,” said the source.

Senior Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya said his party was preparing documents for a meeting with the poll panel’s top brass in Delhi. “Islam should apologise to party activists who died in a bomb explosion today at the residence of his aide Sheikh Ismail,” Bhattacharya said.

CPM state secretariat member Rabin Deb said he had told the Bengal special state observer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh about Islam and Mondal.

Justice Bhagabati Prasad Banerjee said: “I could kill you or injure you seriously. Should an unconditional apology after that suffice? That’s not what the law states. Why should it be different under the commission?”