The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Biman warns poll staff

Calcutta, May 8: Left Front chairman and CPM politburo member Biman Bose today continued his tirade against election observers, charging them with overstepping their limits.

“They will be caught by the collar by our party cadre and taken to police stations,” he thundered at a news conference at Alimuddin Street today.

Bose warned that “CPM workers would identify, detain and put them (the poll observers) in police custody” for questioning the voters’ right to support a party of their choice.

The Left leader alleged that the poll panel observers had hidden their identities to extract information from voters in at least eight constituencies.

Bose said he had come to know of specific complaints lodged against 10 poll panel observers with the Election Commission.

Countering his salvo, Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee demanded Bose’s arrest.

“We also call upon the Election Commission to immediately intervene and take action against the Left Front leader for talking like a criminal,” she said.

Chief electoral officer Basudeb Banerjee refused to comment on the matter.

The Left Front chairman also hinted that “moves are afoot to terrorise the voters by organising flag marches by paramilitary forces in some areas”. But those trying to disturb the peaceful atmosphere are living in fool’s paradise, he said.

Making public his poll observers’ hitlist, Bose began by piling blame on A.K. Tandon, the observer for Basirhat constituency. “We have reports that Tandon today ordered a flag march of paramilitary forces in the Bhangar Assembly segment. Tandon, who hails from Lucknow, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s constituency where not more than 50 per cent votes were polled this time, obviously has no idea about Bengal. I will advise him to take rest and go back to Lucknow at the earliest,” the CPM leader added.

He alleged that A.Y.R. Krishna Rao, the observer for Diamond Harbour, had asked police to arrest people against whom Trinamul Congress candidate Sougata Roy had lodged complaints. “I want to know whether any observer can instruct the police to arrest anyone,” he demanded.

The Left leader also found fault with A.K. Joshi and M.C. Srinivasa Rao, the observers for the Jadavpur Lok Sabha seat.

He said the duo had directed the block development officer of Baruipur to seize a lorry carrying some women of a particular community to a CPM rally.

Rakesh Garg, the observer for the Serampore Lok Sabha seat, also came under fire. Bose alleged that Garg had visited Jangipara police station to check the list of criminals in the area. When the list was shown to him, he asked the police to arrest some of the criminals. “Can a poll observer instruct the police to arrest any criminal'” was Bose’s question.

The poll observer for Arambagh, Rekha Goel, also received flak from Bose for ordering the block development officer at Tarakeswar to remove CPM posters from the walls of some houses.

At Bishnupur, the Left leader alleged, poll observer K.C. Verma, had prodded voters on whether they had been forced to vote for CPM candidates in the last elections.

Poll penalty

The poll panel has removed officer in-charge of Bhupatinagar police station Sudhanshu Roy from his post and asked the district administration of East Midnapore not to entrust him with any poll related duties.

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