People's Democracy

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

Vol. XXX

No. 10

March 05, 2006


Revised Electoral Roll Published: 

Trinamul Congress Continues With lie Campaign


B Prasant


THE revised electoral roll published on February 22, 2006 puts the total electorate in Bengal at 4.89 crore.  The revision process took four months to complete.  The Bengal CPI(M), as declared, has offered every assistance to and cooperation with the Election Commission’s efforts in the publication of the revised electoral roll right from the beginning.


The provisional electoral roll featured four crore and 81 lakh voters.  The final roll sees 12 lakh 98 thousand names deleted.  21 lakh 50 thousand names have been added.  There are thus eight lakh and 51 thousand names added to the draft (provisional) roll.  Two lakh 21 thousand names have been deleted through recommendations of the EC observers.  However, the bulk of the deletion has been result of the initiative taken by the electoral workers and officers of Bengal:  this figure stands at 10 lakh 72 thousand.




A series of false complaints, a bunch of ‘letters of protest’ along with voluminous and bound volumes of ‘proof,’ to the Election Commission, and a close liaison with the corporate media in the effort to lambaste the CPI(M) and the Left Front — this is the package with which the Bengal opposition political groups would prefer to prepare for and participate in the Assembly elections coming up.


Beyond making very occasional ‘political’ statements, which again comprise baseless Left vilification wrapped in vituperative phraseology of the worst kind, the opposition worthies, led by the Trinamul Congress, and supported by the individual ‘groupies’ hanging on to the shoddy coattails of the rag-tag outfit, anti-Communist outlook vicious in every gesture and move, have realised that poll prospects for them are getting dim as the days and weeks pass by.




The inner fighting for ‘tickets’ has taken a violent turn. The internecine killings may well explode into the uncontrollable, sooner than later. The leadership, fragmented, the middle-ranking workers, disjointed and dispirited, and the whole ensemble, whether it is the Trinamul Congress, the Pradesh Congress, the BJP or their separatist and ultra ‘Left’ infantile allies, alienated from the mass of the people, and in a fluster over political aimlessness beyond the usual and pathological hatred for the communists, have chosen to block the Election Commission (EC)’s efforts to go through the pre-poll procedural drive. 


How do they propose to do it?  The initial move is to get the willing and innately anti-communist Bengal corporate media houses to send out photographers and reporters to tag along the EC observers and to run lurid stories of the variety of ‘lakhs of dead voters’ in the electoral rolls with audio-video footage which are ‘organised’ and then blended in with the footage of the main ‘story.’


The opposition and the corporate media would hesitate little to go to ridiculous length to have its way of embarrassing the CPI(M) and the Left Front. An example may be of interest. In the area covered by the south Howrah assembly constituency, the name of a young woman of 20, Tamasa Bhattacharjee is there in the electoral roll from 2003.  The Trinamul Congress committee for south Howrah preferred a ‘strong protest’ against Tamasa’s name and declared that she had been ‘dead for a long time now.’  The corporate media was poised and ready to beam and print the story.  Mamata Banerjee, too, was geared up no doubt with another clarion call (couched, no doubt again, in language not usually associated with politicians in Bengal) for use of Article 356, baying all the while for the blood of the CPI(M).


The plan came to nought.  Tamasa on getting to know about the great big discovery of the perpetration of fraud, quietly presented herself before the Electoral Returning Officer (ERO) and said, in so many words, that the news about her death was an exaggeration.  The same day February 7 saw the Trinamul Congress, in the mood for a go at another potluck, declared in Birbhum that Sibdas Lett, former district president of the SFI, was a ‘dead voter.’  An alert Sibdas walked to the office of the concerned ERO and proved ipso facto by presenting himself with documentation, that at 20, he was far from dead.  Thousands of such instances can be given.




The story lies deeper than the obvious however, as Anil Biswas, state secretary of the Bengal unit of the CPI(M) has noted repeatedly. The game plan of the Trinamul Congress is some thing far more sinister than mere preferring of a few sundry and clearly baseless complaints.


They propose to bombard the EC with literally lakhs of complaints, and the truth be damned.  For example, a Trinamul Congress MLA from south Kolkata has prepared a several bound volumes of ‘complaints’ about ‘dead and/or shifted’ voters and plans to present it before the EC.  Perhaps he would already have done that by the time this report is printed.  What is the peremptory basis of the ‘complaint?’ The worthy has ignored the revision roll of 2005 and has organised his complaints based on the electoral roll of 2004.


Quite naturally, all the corrections integrated into the 2005 electoral roll would be missing from the 2004 list.  What the Trinamul Congress angles for is this: since the ‘complaints’ are presented on behalf of a political party, the EC will willy-nilly have to go through every single instance quoted therein. 


By the time the EC finds that the factual basis of the complaint is wrong, a great length of time will have elapsed, effectively deferring the publication of the revised rolls, and putting off the assembly election itself, hopefully, for the Trinamul Congress, deferring the polls and preparing the ground for the bringing in of Article 356.


It is very awkward also, that attempts are made at the behest of the Trinamul Congress, aided, and often abetted by the corporate media, for the deletion of names of those who have moved out the area of registered residence. 




It is not a secret that every year, lakhs of people move out thus for employment, for non-perennial jobs, and for purpose of study. Thousands of peasants, khet mazdoors, fishing folk, construction workers, and workers in the brick kilns temporarily move away from their hearth-and-home at certain times of the year, especially during the period between December and March.


Once their names are put on the list of suspected ‘dead/shifted’ voters, they are as per law informed and asked to be present before the ERO with documentation.  The various functional levels of CPI(M) committees have come forward to prevent genuine voters from losing their right to cast their votes. 


However, as Anil Biswas has put it, if mischievous complaints are piled on by lakhs, the problem assumes a qualitatively different character, as great confusion is artificially generated amongst those engaged in the preparation of the electoral rolls, leading to delay with all its attendant problems.  The harassment involved for the rural and urban folk in the entire exercise can easily be appreciated.


Anil Biswas has been generally appreciative of the working of the EC and of the EC observers.  The Bengal CPI(M) has welcomed the observers and it has been filled with alacrity and concern while extending full cooperation to the EC’s initiatives in unearthing false and dead voters. 


Addressing an SFI rally held at Hooghly recently, Anil Biswas made it clear that a hospitable Bengal would always welcome the visits of the EC observers.  Anil Biswas also warned the Trinamul Congress and the corporate media not to try to create confusion on the issue of the revision of the electoral rolls as the elections approached.




The pre-election scenario has been marked by other features and developments as well. In a manner that has been uncharted hitherto, the Bengal CPI(M) and the Bengal Left Front have had to respond to the developments while continuing determinedly to steer the course of the massive and statewide election campaign building up.


Graffiti and posters, along with chain-flags, banners and buntings, colourful and appealing to the eye have been an intimate part of the election campaign in Bengal for decades now.  ‘Election-time,’ as Kolakatans refer cheerily to the poll campaign, has always been marked by the metropolis being adorned in splashes of colour, red — and yellow, and green, and blue.


In the case of the CPI(M) and the LF constituents, buildings owned by the government are always scrupulously avoided.  And when the walls of a private dwelling place are to be painted on with election graffiti, permission is always sought from the owner.  For the doughty ‘lone rangers’ of the opposition, the ‘grab-and-smash-approach’ holds true in a frightening way, as usual.  The series of buntings and chain flags, in their thousands fluttering in the breeze across the skyline of the city would gladden the hearts-and-minds of any citizen.


Thus, the recent directive of the Election Commission to the Bengal Left Front government about imposing a ban on all graffiti and wall writing in the run up to the assembly polls created ripples in the ranks of the political parties in Bengal.  The ‘prevention of de-facement of property act’ of 1976 vintage (the era of the internal emergency) was now to be imposed all over Bengal, it seemed.


Secretary of the Bengal unit of the CPI(M) Anil Biswas, briefing the media on the issue has said that clarification and a comprehensive guideline is to be sought from the Election Commission as to how, then, a political party would be expected to conduct the election campaign. 


Anil Biswas has pointed out that there are no less than five existing orders/ directives on the matter of graffiti and posters, and the Election Commission has to be approached to seek the directives that would have to be followed by political parties.  Until such time a response was received, assured the CPI(M) leader, no fresh walls would be painted with election campaign material.