From B Prasant/INN
Kolkata, April 20: As in the past, political parties are requested as a routine to be present when allotments of time of addresses by them on the AIR and the Doordarshan are drawn by lots. The office of the CEO took a sudden decision recently to change the date of this pre-scheduled meeting at the behest of ‘two political parties’ neither of which belonged to the Left Front.
The Bengal LF leadership wrote to the CEO’s office protesting this vehemently and finally, the meeting as rescheduled was chosen by the officials to be postponed. This is a clear example of the pattern of behaviour of the officialdom as the polls approach.
Complaints have also been received from districts like Raigunj up in north Bengal where the EC officials, suo motu, has started to wipe graffiti off from walls of houses from the owners of which the CPI(M) had had prior voluntary permission procured in writing.
Also, in cases where the CPI(M) is in the process of wiping out graffiti at the behest of the EC, the officialdom would turn their face away as the space would be promptly utilized for wall writing by the Pradesh Congress and the Trinamul Congress.
Strong letters have been written by Biman Basu, secretary, Bengal CPI(M) to the CEC protesting all these and many other acts of commission and omission, and calling for appropriate remedial action, although to little avail, as we file this report.
DANGEROUS PORTENTS OF GJMM MOVE
The Bengal unit of the CPI(M) has expressed its worries over the developments of a divisive and sabotaging nature taking place in Darjeeling under the direct guidance and leadership of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM). It has written two letters to the Chief Election Commissioner in this regard. Below we quote the relevant portions of the two letters dated 19 and 20 April 2009.
1. “(…) we draw your attention to the serious situation prevailing in the three hill-subdivision Assembly segments of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Kurseong under the 4-Darjeeling PC, conditions that would surely prevent free-and-fair polling on 30 April 2009.
2. We may say that the Gorkha Jana Mukti morcha (GJMM) and its electoral partner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hell-bent on not allowing any electioneering and/or political campaigning by our Party in particular. Indeed, you may kindly note that the process of election itself is being distorted by these two political parties (i.e., GJMM and BJP) to the detriment of democracy, peace, amity, and solidarity.
3. The GJMM is engaged seriously at all levels to target the religious and linguistic minorities. The GJMM has several times forced the minorities to take part in processions that the GJMM has organised. The threat hangs ominously in the air that nobody would be allowed to vote against the GJMM-supported BJP candidate from the 4-Darjeeling PC, especially in the hill sub-divisions.
4. The GJMM has most recently asked the two organisations that they run viz., Hotel Workers’ association, and Taxi Drivers’ association to boycott all supporters of the CPI (M) candidate and they have forced the issue that no hotel rooms and no vehicles would be made available to any supporters of the CPI (M) candidate, thus crippling our election campaign considerably and in a most undemocratic manner which is also in contravention of the Constitutional proviso.
5. The GJMM as part of its threat technique has publicly pronounced that since they would know who voted for whom, they would initiate appropriate measure against those who do not vote for the BJP candidate.
6. The GJMM has kept ready a trained ‘police force’ that they call the Gorkha Land Personnel (GLP) at the ready at Gorubathan in the hill area and these trained men and women, supervised by ex-Army instructors are to be deployed in the polls, the GJMM has publicly declared, 15 per booth, and the apparent aim is to terrorise the voters into polling for the BJP candidate. They have also declared that no CPI (M) agent would be allowed to do his/her duty at the polling stations.
7. Even more serious, the election personnel of Darjeeling are tutored to work in favour of the BJP candidate, and mock training is being provided to the election personnel by the GJMM workers so that the official and other personnel persuade the voters to vote only for the BJP candidate. This is just a mockery of democracy.
8. In the same vein, the AROs including the SDO Siliguri himself is engaged in filing false and fictitious FIRs against CPI (M) workers. They also brief the media saying that the CPI (M) is the greatest violator of the Mode Code while flooding the different Police Stations with bogus complaints against the CPI (M) without checking the veracity.
9. In view of the above, we demand the following steps should be immediately initiated.
A. Para-military forces should be deployed right now and flag marches organised so that the voters regain confidence.
B. Polling personnel should be deployed from both the hill and the plains area. Employees from the plains too must be deployed as polling supervisors, and close circuit camera should watch out for malpractices within booths during polling.
C. Sector officers should carry hidden video recorders while each booth should be manned by CRPF personnel.
D. The GLP training camps at Gorubathan should be dismantled and legal action if any deemed necessary taken against the organisers of the camps.
E. The present system of decentralised counting should be rigorously adhered to instead of the proposed centralised counting at Darjeeling.
In its second letter, the Bengal CPI (M) wrote:
1. “It has come to our knowledge that more than 400 members of the Gorkha land Personnel (GLP) have been identified as carrying out arms training at Gorubathan near the border with Bhutan. They are trained by former Army instructors, and they wear olive green camouflage fatigues like the Indian Army.
2. These GLP personnel have been seen threatening voters to support the BJP candidate when the time comes for exercising their franchise. They have also been engaged in tearing own flags, banners, and festoons of the CPI (M) in the three hill sub-divisions.
In view of this, we demand:
A. CRPF should be deployed as early as possible in the hill areas and flag marches undertaken to restore voters’ confidence
B. The GLP camp at Gorubathan must be immediately dismantled and proceedings drawn up as per the law of the land against all the personnel involved in the camp, as trainers, trainees, and administrative. Please ensure that no civilians are allowed to wear/use Army fatigues.
C. The CRPF should be maintained beyond the date of the election, 30 April 2009, to prevent post-poll violence that we apprehend, and to keep pre-poll peace that the people desire.
D. Other measures as appropriate for a free, fair, and peaceful polling in the three hill sub-divisions should be initiated and as early as possible. (….).”
The response of any kind from the office of the CEC/CEO is yet awaited as we file this report.