The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sairani echoes Subhas in EC outburst

Malda, April 10: Relief minister Hafiz Ali Sairani did a Subhas Chakraborty today as he alleged that the Election Commission (EC) was 'confusing' the voters.

The minister also threatened that once the elections were over the Left Front would not sit idle but would fight against the 'autocratic' poll panel. Sairani is contesting for his third term in the Assembly on a Forward Bloc ticket from Goalpokhar in the neighbouring North Dinajpur district.

Addressing newspersons at Malda Tourist Lodge, the minister let loose a barrage of accusations on the agency entrusted with overseeing the poll process in the state.

He said: 'We are all confused. The Election Commission had initially said this time voters without photo-identity cards would not be allowed to vote. Now it says that one can vote even without the photo-identity card. Which of these two directives should one follow'

The minister's comment comes a day after the poll panel cleared a set of 13 documents as proof of the voters' identity.

Sairani claimed that the Left Front had been insisting that the EC office in New Delhi should send a set of specific instructions to avoid confusion among the electorate. The commission had not come up with any such document, he alleged.

'They, however, have been issuing a new fatwa every other day. In the process, they have thrown a challenge to the administrative machinery of the state. They might not have faith in the administration, but we have run the state for past 29 years,' the minister said.

According to Sairani, the election expenditure has gone up four to five times, even on a conservative estimate. 'This is public money. If so much money is spent on elections, where will funds for development work come from' After all we shall have to run the government after the elections,' Sairani said.

The minister added that both the Centre and the state were being forced to spend a huge amount of money on the central reserve forces. All this, he said, will add up to a telling blow on the government exchequer, which will reflect on the development projects.

Sairani said the commission has also raised the expenditure of political parties for election campaign by banning graffiti and posters. 'Now we are being forced to distribute T-shirts with names printed on them,' the Forward Bloc leader said.

Extending his 'whole-hearted' support to Chakraborty's comments about the commission, Sairani said: 'Subhasbabu is absolutely right in what he said about the EC.'

The sports and transport minister had made headlines after he alleged recently that poll officials were acting as 'stooges of the EC though the state government paid their salaries'.

The EC had struck back immediately and state election chief Debashis Sen lodged a complaint against the minister at Laketown police station last Wednesday, on instructions from the EC, for 'intimidating' poll officials.

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