The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Biman hits out at observers
Biman Bose and BB Tandon

Calcutta, March 21: On a day the full bench of the Election Commission came to the city to look into Bengal's poll preparedness, the CPM lashed out at its observers saying many of them were acting according to their whims and fancies.

Chief election commissioner B.B. Tandon and his two deputies today heard political parties and their complaints and the CPM was no exception. Its leaders Rabin Deb, Madan Ghosh and Sukhendu Panigrahi met the commission.

However, Left Front chairman and CPM politburo member Biman Bose hit out at the commission's observers for having committed 'excesses' by entertaining all complaints lodged by the Opposition parties and deleting names of 'genuine voters'.

Speaking at the party's Alimuddin Street headquarters, Bose said the poll panel should frame guidelines for observers clearly spelling out the don'ts.

The CPM also made public its reservations about two observers who had toured East Midnapore and Burdwan.

'We have drawn your attention to the role being played by EC observers Dipak Prasad (in charge of East Midnapore) and R.N. Dash (Burdwan). Please ensure that such incidents do not recur,' Bose has written to the commission.

The Midnapore leadership had accused Prasad of verbally ordering the administration to transfer some employees associated with the electoral rolls revision. Dash allegedly went to an abandoned coal mine in Asansol to inquire into illegal mining with the local Trinamul Congress MLA and a former Congress legislator.

'There are exceptions, but most EC observers are simply not aware of the Representation of the People Act. They should find out whether they are acting on genuine complaints. Just because they have been sent by the EC does not mean they can do anything and everything,' Bose said.

The front chief, who along with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will share responsibility for running the CPM's campaign in the wake of state secretary Anil Biswas's illness, also raked up the party's unhappiness over the five-phase elections.

Asked if the CPM repre- sentatives told the panel today that it was an 'unwarranted step', Bose said though not in favour of split polls, the party had 'no problem accepting it'.

He alleged that MPs Prasanta Pradhan and Alakesh Das had been asked to prove whether their residential addresses were true, while former MP Sudhir Giri's name had been deleted from the rolls.

The observers are entertaining 'flimsy complaints' made by the Trinamul Congress, Congress and BJP without 'verifying them', Bose said.

Over a dozen residents of Benachity in the heart of Durgapur went to the subdivisional office yesterday to prove that they were not dead, as the rolls had claimed. All of them had voter I-cards.

A group of seven in Malda, Bose said, has asked the district administration to produce their death certificates. 'Isn't this a mockery of an error-free voters' list' he asked.

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