People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 19

May 09, 2004

CEC Expresses Satisfaction


IN Kolkata for a day to meet leaders of political parties, poll officials, state and central, and police officials, the members of the Election Commission including the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), T S Krishnamurthy expressed satisfaction in the manner in which polls have been conducted freely and in peace in Bengal over the past.  The CEC also believed that the state government “has taken adequate preparations to ensure that the poll process would be free and fair this time around.”  The CEC met the media in the afternoon.


The CPI(M) delegation, led by the state secretariat member and kisan leader, Madan Ghosh, had earlier come up with examples of the way in which the opposition was violating the code of conduct of the electoral rules and regulations.


The CEC said that the task at hand was to communicate to the electorate that they could cast their votes “fearlessly and to their satisfaction.”  Reading between the lines of this straightforward expression, the corporate audio-visual media, in particular, has gone to town proclaiming that the CEC is “not convinced about the neutrality of the state administration.” 




The Ananda Bazar Patrika, an itinerant Left-baiter, went a step further to declare grandly that the CEC has not “bowed before the pressure tactics of the ruling party in Bengal.”  If these are not distortions of a news item, one does not really know what is.  Madan Ghosh, however, told the media that the CEC had communicated to the CPI(M) delegation that he would have the matter of deployment of poll personnel from outside of Bengal reviewed in the appropriate manner. 


At any rate, the CEC told Madan Ghosh, that only two thousand poll personnel were being brought in from outside of the state and that the figure constituted but one per cent of the total of two lakh election personnel being put in place. Ghosh had earlier questioned the decision by noting that there was no conceivable reason for the CEC to believe that the prevailing situation in Bengal was not peaceful and stable.


Continuing to dwell on the issue of deployment of poll personnel from outside of the state, the CEC tried to justify the decision by saying that there was no intention of either insulting the people of Bengal or to discriminate against the state.  He then went on to expand his argument to state that “six other states” too, have had poll personnel deployed from outside of the state. 


When called for naming the “six states,” the CEC, however, could come up only with the names of Jammu & Kashmir and Assam.  And he chose to maintain a diplomatic silence when the inevitable follow up question came up as to whether he would care to compare the situation prevailing in those two states with that in Bengal.  Madan Ghosh had earlier stated before the CEC that democracy prevailed in Bengal under the Left Front government and here, the employees were given the right to organise trade union but not political organisations.


The CPI(M) delegation counter-posed certain issues before the CEC when they met him.  Certain election observers sent over by Delhi’s North Block had queried voters in locales such as Ranigunj, Katwa, Asansol, and Garden Reach as to why they kept voting for the CPI(M) and whether the CPI(M) had given them money to do it or had put pressure on them to vote in a certain manner.  The CPI(M) delegation has also said that certain IAS and IPS officers were actively involved in working for the cause of the Pradesh Congress, the Trinamul Congress, and the BJP.


The Trinamul Congress leader Ajit Panja has been engaged in distributing various consumer articles to the members of the constituency he was contesting from, as have P R Das Munshi of the Pradesh Congress, and Sultan Ahmad, and Indrani Mukhopadhyay of the Trinamul Congress.  Panja and Mukhopadhyay ran blood donation camps where they distributed consumer articles along with their party’s symbol. 


Ajit Panja has used communal overtones in his propaganda pamphlets.  The members of the opposition parties have also used loudspeakers in contravention of the directives of both the Kolkata High Court and the Pollution Control Board.  The CEC has listened to the complaints with due gravity that they deserved, the leader of the CPI(M) delegation, Madan Ghosh hoped.