The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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One minister in the dock...

Calcutta, April 4: The Election Commission is going to file a police complaint against transport minister Subhas Chakraborty who had said poll officials are acting as its underlings, though the state government pays their salary.

Chief electoral officer De-bashis Sen has been asked to lodge the complaint and send a compliance report to the commission by Thursday.

Sources said the poll panel had also sought a reply from the CPM brass in Delhi on the Bengal minister's remarks.

Industries minister and senior CPM leader Nirupam Sen said Chakraborty has already sent his response to the commission. 'Party general secretary Prakash Karat has also written to the EC about it,' he added.

Chakraborty had lashed out at election officials, saying 'they are working as EC stooges despite being on the state government's payrolls'.

The chief electoral officer will lodge the commission's complaint at Lake Town police station tomorrow.

'Intimidation' of election officials would be one of the points that would find men- tion in the complaint, sources said.

Sen went to Delhi this morning to attend a meeting convened by the commission to discuss the sealing of Bengal's borders with Bihar and Jharkhand on polling day.

After the meeting, he was told to take immediate action against the minister.

Contacted in the capital tonight, the chief electoral officer told The Telegraph: 'I will file a police complaint against Subhas Chakraborty after I reach Calcutta tomorrow morning. After that, I will send the compliance report, as desired by the commission.'

Jyoti Basu took strong exception to the commission's decision to lodge a police complaint against Chakraborty. 'Let (the) EC do whatever it likes, but we are going to win this time also,' he said.

The veteran CPM leader added: 'I've never heard of such a decision during my long stint as chief minister. This is unprecedented.'

Government chief whip and CPM leader Rabin Deb said: 'It is unfortunate that the EC has taken such a drastic step against our minister. As the commission is the supreme authority regarding elections, it is better to remain silent.'

Chakraborty was not available for comment as he was busy campaigning in Lake Town and Patipukur till late tonight.

Earlier in the day, he filed his nomination for the Belgachhia East constituency at Mayukh Bhavan in Salt Lake.

Chief election commissioner B.B. Tandon is coming to Calcutta tomorrow. He will go to Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore, the Maoist strongholds that are going to polls on April 17.

Election observers deputed to oversee polls in Calcutta will come to the city on Thursday to examine the process of filing nominations and their scrutiny.

Nominations for all the Calcutta seats have to be filed by Saturday.

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