The Telegraph
Saturday , April 26 , 2014
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Observer glare on Birbhum

Suri, April 25: Special state observer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh today warned the Birbhum administration and district poll officials against allowing political leaders to influence the voting process, the comments coming against the backdrop of a Trinamul candidate allegedly flouting the model code and the district party chief giving provocative speeches.

Referring to the allegation that Sheikh Nurul Islam, the Trinamul candidate for Jangipur in Murshidabad, had entered three booths yesterday with more people than permitted under the model code, Rakesh said the Election Commission (EC) had zero tolerance for such acts. The special observer added that the Birbhum administration would be taken to task if similar incidents happened during polling on April 30.

An FIR has been lodged against Sheikh Nurul Islam for allegedly violating CrPC Section 144 by entering the polling premises with more than five persons.

During his tour of Birbhum and Burdwan today, Rakesh held meetings with the authorities of both districts. Sources who attended the meetings said Rakesh warned only the Birbhum administration.

Two days ago, Rakesh had said the EC had “every medicine necessary” for the conduct of free, fair and peaceful polls in Birbhum, when asked about frequent provocative speeches by district Trinamul president Anubrata Mondal and MLA Manirul Islam.

Asked in Birbhum today about the “medicines”, Rakesh said: “Be prepared for surprises.”

Commission sources in Delhi said special security measures were being planned for Birbhum.

“You must prevent unauthorised entry into polling stations. You will not see political colour while taking necessary steps, especially against those violating rules,” Rakesh was quoted as saying at the Birbhum meeting this morning.

A senior district official said: “We were warned against succumbing to pressure from politicians. Rakesh, however, did not take names.”

Mondal and Manirul Islam have been showcaused and warned by the EC for making inflammatory comments targeting the Opposition.

“Rakesh said that during last year’s panchayat polls, it had been noticed that leaders in Birbhum had entered booths with activists and talked to voters. Should such a thing happen again this time, we have been directed to tell central security forces to remove the violators,” a polling official said.

When Rakesh was today asked by reporters about the measures the EC planned to take against Mondal and Manirul Islam, he said: “We shall not go about taking names. Anyone who will violate law and order or the commission’s norms will be acted against.”

Birbhum has 2,962 polling stations in its two parliamentary constituencies.

“It is a good thing that on the day of voting, each polling station will have either central paramilitary forces and micro-observer or live telecasting or digital cameras or video cameras. Each and every booth will be covered by one of these. The measure is foolproof and the commission will have eyes and ears everywhere in the district,” Rakesh said.

He added he was pleased with the work of the civil administration and the police in Birbhum and Burdwan.

“The planning is very good and I am satisfied. They got full marks in presentation and preparation. But marks on performance will be given on poll day,” Rakesh said.