MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

North and South 24-Parganas, Howrah, and Jhargram under Election Commission radar

A stern response from the commission was prompted by the recent unrest in Sandeshkhali and the BJP's submission of documents on the existence of over 16 lakhs fake voters in Bengal

Saibal Gupta, Pushpa Kumari Sah Calcutta Published 05.03.24, 12:12 PM
BJP leaders arrive for a meeting with EC officials in Calcutta on Monday.

BJP leaders arrive for a meeting with EC officials in Calcutta on Monday. Picture by Gautam Bose

The Election Commission of India came down heavily on the district administration and police, singling out North and South 24-Parganas, Howrah, and Jhargram for their inefficiency to wipe out fake voters, their inability to maintain law and order, and their failure to execute non-bailable arrest warrants.

This stern response from the commission was prompted by the recent unrest in Sandeshkhali and the BJP's submission of documents on the existence of over 16 lakhs fake voters in Bengal.

ADVERTISEMENT

The full bench of the Election Commission, headed by chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar, arrived in the state on Sunday evening to assess the election preparedness. Initially, they held meetings with major political parties including the Trinamul, BJP, Congress, and the CPM, followed by a comprehensive discussion with the district administration and senior police officers.

“District magistrates (DMs) and superintendents of police (SPs) have been entrusted with a significant responsibility. They are tasked with ensuring a fair and level playing field for all political parties, without displaying any partisan towards any particular party. In the event of allegations of partiality against any employee under the jurisdiction of the DM or SP, the respective DM or SP will be held accountable for such actions. We have strongly advocated that there should be absolute transparency and impartiality,” Kumar said in a video message just after the meeting.

Kumar’s observation comes after a chain of events in and around Sandeshkhali following allegations of landgrab and sexual harassment against Trinamul leader Sheikh Shahjahan.

Sources in the commission said that there had been reports of incidents such as bomb explosions, intimidation, violence against women and other allegations in Sandeshkhali and its adjacent areas. The commission made it clear that if these incidents were related to elections then they would not think twice before removing any officer. Ccentral forces reached Sandeshkali on Sunday night.

“Taking a cue from Sandeshkhali incidents where the neutrality of the police is under the scanner, the commission expressed its strong reservations regarding the law and order situation of the state. The commission asked all the police officers to work impartially so that the political parties get a fair chance in the election,” a senior commission official present in the meeting said.

The commission also took cognisance of the presence of fake voters in the state.

“Political parties have complained about dead and fake voters. Why are the dead voters not being removed from the voters list? Where is the problem? You tell me. We will remove all the hurdles,” the commission asked all district magistrates.

The commission’s observation comes after the BJP represented by Jagannath Chatterjee, Sisir Bajoria and Om Pathak complained about fake voters. In a letter given to the CEC, the BJP provided details to the CEO on February 28 that over 16 lakh fake names existed in the voter list published this year.

The three-member delegation of Trinamul urged the poll panel to conduct Lok Sabha elections for all 42 parliamentary constituencies in the state in a single phase.

Kalyan Bandopadhyay, the Trinamul MP who headed the delegation, said after the meeting that they told EC officials that elections in seven or eight phases would unduly favour the BJP in Bengal.

Trinamul also highlighted the selective cancellation of Aadhaar cards in Bengal and the deployment of central forces even before polls were announced.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT