The Telegraph
Thursday , January 31 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fest protest in Malda

Malda, Jan. 30: The Congress, CPM and the BJP have questioned the Malda district administration’s initiative to hold the Malda chapter of the Uttarbanga Utsav tomorrow at a time the model code of conduct is in place ahead of the February 23 Englishbazar bypolls.

Malda district administration has, however, said that the event is being organised with permission from the chief electoral officer of the state.

Sources in the office of the chief electoral officer in Calcutta said the district administration had sought permission. “We have said that the programme should be held without the presence of any political personalities and no political speeches can be made,” said a source.

Joydeb Thakur, the additional district magistrate, who is overseeing the arrangements of the one-day event, said the fest would be inaugurated at 3pm.

The manager of the Eastern Railway’s Malda division, Ravinder Gupta, has been invited to inaugurate the event at Brindabani Maidan in Englishbazar constituency. “The divisional railway manager (DRM), and not any political personality, will inaugurate the event. We have sought the permission of the state election office,” Thakur said. He added that there would be a sit and draw competition, folk dances and performances by local artistes during the day. The event will end with a performance by Bangla band Cactus.

While DRM Gupta said that he had accepted the invitation, Union minister of state for railways Adhir Chowdhury said the official could not take part in the event. “While an election process is on, no railway official can attend a public function. I cannot say why the divisional railway manager accepted the invitation. I am making inquiries,” he said.

Ambar Mitra, the CPM district secretary, said: “Earlier, it had been decided that the Uttarbanga Utsav would be held in Tantipara grounds. Later, the administration shifted the venue to Brindabani Maidan. Public money is being spent to influence voters (in Englishbazar). We will complain to the Election Commission about this violation of the model code of conduct,” Mitra said.

Malda Congress president Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury said: “The Trinamul Congress is using government funds to achieve victory in the bypolls. This will not be tolerated.”

Sibendusekhar Roy, the BJP’s district secretary, said: “The state government should not have held the event. We are writing to the EC.”