The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Poll panel case to collar Biman

New Delhi, May 9: On the eve of elections in Bengal, the Election Commission has decided to lodge a police complaint against Biman Bose for his “provocative” remarks against poll observers.

The panel will also serve a showcause notice on the CPM and threatened countermanding elections if party cadre vitiated the electoral process tomorrow.

Bengal’s chief electoral officer Basudeb Banerjee has been told to file an FIR under the Indian Penal Code against the Left Front chairman, deputy election commissioner A.. Jha said here this evening.

Bose had yesterday charged poll observers with overstepping limits and said at the CPM office in Calcutta: “They will be caught by the collar by our party cadre and taken to police stations.”

“CPM workers,” he had said, “would identify, detain and put them in police custody” for questioning voters’ right to support a party of their choice.

“These statements are highly provocative and amount to interfering in the electoral process with a view to vitiate it. (The) Election Commission condemns this statement which amounts to intimidation of the election observers,” Jha said, urging them to work “impartially and fearlessly”.

Bose today stood by his comments on a “few observers who have clearly gone beyond their official brief” but clarified that “at no point did I say a single critical word against the commission”.

“Reaffirming fullest faith in the commission, I shall say my remarks will not provoke anyone in Bengal to disrespect the high office or work against it,” said Bose, a CPM politburo member.

Party general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet, too, said that “we have full faith in the commission’s preparations and ask the voters to come out in full strength and vote”.

The CPM has been at loggerheads with some poll observers over “excesses” since they were brought in from other states by the panel. The panel had also transferred 10 police officers and barred them from election duty after complaints from political parties.

Following a panel directive today to provide “adequate security” to observers, home secretary Amit Kiran Deb said all district magistrates had been ordered to do so. “The government is fully with the commission,” he said.

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