Debating India

WEST BENGAL

Subhas seat in eye of poll storm

Thursday 27 April 2006, by BANDOPADHYAY*Sabyasachi

Kolkata, April 26: Less than 24 hours before it goes to polls, Belgatchia East, from where State Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Subhas Chakraborty is contesting the polls, saw dramatic developments today.

The Election Commission (EC) withdrew two observers, but appointed four new ones. At the end of the day, the constituency had six observers in all.

Earlier in the day, the EC withdrew the expenditure observer, H R Bhimshankar, following a complaint filed by CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose. The party, in a letter to the EC last night, had accused Bhimshankar of making disparaging remarks about the constituency.

In an interview telecast on a private channel last evening, Bhimshankar was quoted as saying that Belgatchia East was ??the most notorious’’ constituency in the state where ??there never were free and fair elections’’.

Bose alleged that Bhimshankar had violated the code of conduct by speaking to the media. ??In passing such uncalled for remarks, Bhimshankar is guilty of insulting the electorate of the constituency and showing malicious disrespect to all previous ECs under whose auspices Assembly and parliamentary elections in West Bengal have been held,’’ said Bose.

The party filed its complaint with the Deputy Election Commissioner, Anant Kumar, who then submitted his recommendation to the EC. Accordingly, the EC announced Bhimshankar’s removal.

Even before dust had settled on the issue, the EC announced the withdrawal of yet another observer, D C Sahu, from the same constituency for allegedly making loose comments to the media.

But late in the night, Kumar inducted four new observers in place of the two removed. With two of the older observers already in place, the constituency now has six observers in all.

??Observers speaking to the media is discouraged. Here, the EC has taken the decision because of what he told the media,’’ said Debashis Sen, the State’s Chief Electoral Officer, today.

Meanwhile, the police conducted raids all over Belgatchia East last night, including at Salt Lake’s Yubabharati Stadium, to track down Chakraborty’s supporters. During the 2001 Assembly elections, largescale violence was reported from Salt Lake, allegedly by Chakraborty’s supporters.

See online : The Indian Express

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