The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anil blasts bogus-vote publicity
- CPM goes on the offensive against 'sound bite-savvy' election officers

Calcutta, Jan. 16: The CPM today said election observers touring the state to locate bogus voters are more interested in 'publicity than their job'.

'We have no problems if election observers detect bogus voters and report it to the Election Commission. But we are opposed to the manner in which they are taking photographers along. It is in bad taste,' state CPM secretary Anil Biswas said at the party's Alimuddin Street headquarters this afternoon.

According to Biswas, there has to be 'bogus' voters on the rolls as people die and shift homes. 'On a list of about five crore voters, even if three lakh names are assumed to be false, does that mean Bengal's electoral roll is bogus' he asked.

Complaints about bogus voters are being blown out of proportion and stories of irregularities cooked up, he said. 'Instead of publicising the irregularities in the electoral rolls through the media, we want the Election Commission to scrutinise them properly and take appropriate action.'

The election observer who toured Hooghly, N. Shibsailam, had apparently told reporters that elections there would be 'different this time'.

Biswas asked: 'Why are such warnings being issued' Wasn't there an Election Commission earlier'

It is 'an observer's job to detect irregularities and report them to the commission', he added.

Not just the Hooghly observer, several others have offered sound bites and provided photo opportunities.

K.J. Rao, the poll panel adviser, did not mind camera crews trailing him in Nadia last week and taking pictures of him highlighting names of false voters identified by both Left and Opposition parties.

Sudhir Kumar, the observer for North 24-Parganas, instructed district magistrate Manoj Pant in full public view to strike off names of bogus voters in Gaighata.

'It is hard to believe that observers are revealing the contents of their reports to journalists before sending them to the commission. Is it legal to do so' Biswas asked.

The CPM leader said no state could claim to have an error-free electoral roll. 'Tell me which state' he asked reporters.

This is the first time the CPM has acknowledged the existence of bogus voters in Bengal. First Biman Bose and then Jyoti Basu admitted to their presence.

Basu had also asked party supporters to co-operate with the observers.

The party has time and again emphasised that the poll panel had given a clean chit to all Bengal elections. Biswas did the same again today.

Special observer Afzal Amanulla, however, had likened Bengal to Bihar in the lead-up to the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

The state administration, according to Biswas, could not be held responsible for Bangladeshis casting ballots here.

'Tell me whose responsibility it is to check infiltration' he asked.

However, bogus voters continued to pop up from the electoral rolls.

Observer Sudhir Kumar, who visited Sector V and EE block of Salt Lake today, said so far about 280 people have been found to have their names in more than one place.

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