People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Make Own Assesment And Decide Timing
Left Leaders Meet EC On Gujarat Polls
A DELEGATION of the Left parties and Janata Dal (Secular) met the Election Commission on July 25 and urged it to make its own independent assessment of the situation in Gujarat and accordingly decide on the timing of elections in the state in order to ensure a free and fair poll. It called on the EC to conduct the elections in such a manner that the responsibility bestowed on it by Article 324 of the Constitution is carried out both in letter and spirit.
The delegation consisted of Harkishan Singh Surjeet, CPI(M) general secretary, A B Bardhan, CPI general secretary, H D Deve Gowda, Janata Dal (Secular) president, Sitaram Yechury and D Raja.
In a memorandum submitted to the EC on this occasion, the parties described the Gujarat cabinet's decision to recommend the dissolution of the assembly as a move to pressurise the Election Commission into holding early elections in the state. The present term of the assembly expires only in March 2003.
The memorandum exposed the government's desperate efforts to pressurise the Commission by giving absurd interpretations to Article 174. The memorandum states " In our opinion, Article 174 of the Constitution no way makes it mandatory for the elections to be held so that the newly elected assembly can meet within six months of the former assembly session. The Constitutional provision stipulates that the same assembly is required to meet not later than six months of its earlier session. It defies common sense to interpret this Article in any other way. For instance, a state government may well decide to recommend the dissolution of the House five months and two weeks after its last session. Is it then incumbent on the Election Commission to conduct the election within the span of the remaining two weeks? Such an interpretation being given to Article 174 borders on the absurd."
The leaders questioned how the will of the people would be properly reflected when even according to official figures thousands of Muslims continue to live in relief camps and they cannot even return to their localities. "When the fundamental right to life and liberty cannot be ensured, how can the right of adult franchise be fairly exercised?", the leaders questioned in their memorandum.