(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 30, 2012
CPI(M) MPs Meet Election Commisioner
Sitaram Yechury, MP, and Polit Bureau member of CPI(M) and Khagen Das, MP and Central Committee member of CPI(M) met the Election Commissioner on December 20 and handed over the following letter regarding objections raised by Congress party to the voters list of Tripura where the assembly elections are scheduled to be held in February next year.
WE, on behalf of the CPI(M), express our serious concern about the news which appeared in the local dailies that a team of Congress party leaders would soon meet you to submit, according to the report, objections against so called huge number of erroneous entries in the voters list of Tripura which is scheduled to go to general election to the legislative assembly in February next year.
In this regard, we like to submit before you the following facts:
1. The schedule of Special Summery Revision of electoral roll of the state of Tripura was first notified on August 29, 2012, targeting the final publication of the roll on January 5, 2013.
2. The above schedule was revised with a notification dated September 11, 2012 advancing the publication of draft from October 1 to September 20 and keeping the final publication on the same January 5, 2013.
3. The schedule was again partly revised in view of the objections submitted in plain papers before you by a delegation of the Congress party. The Commission fixed a new schedule for filing claims and objections from November 2-14, 2012 and postponed the final publication from January 5 to January 12, 2013.
4. Some claims and many objections, all in plain papers were filed in the respective ERO offices during this extended period of time. All these claims and objections, though submitted in plain papers, avoiding formalities, were decided after hearing. Congress Party again started submitting claims and objections even after November 14, 2012, the last date of the extended time frame by the CEC.
5. In the meantime, you have sent five observers to the state to verify the objections filed by the Congress party. The Observers extensively toured in various places of the state and physically investigated many cases of objections and got an idea about the veracity of the voluminous cases of objections filed by the Congress party. We are yet to know whether the observers submitted their reports to you or if they did, what were the contents of those reports. But we have reports from most of the places where the observers met the people, that a large number of the objections had no basis at all.
6. Though the observers did not meet the press, the State Election Department made us understand that all the observers were satisfied with the progress of the preparation of electoral rolls and Vinode Zutsi, the deputy election commissioner categorically expressed his satisfaction to the press about the progress of election preparations in all sectors in the state including revision of electoral rolls.
7. The Election Commission might be aware of the fact that the tenure of the present Left Front government is going to expire in the middle of March, 2013. On the other hand, the Madhyamik and Higher Secondary examination will commence on March 1, 2013 and continue for about a month. Thus, if we want to keep the examination schedule undisturbed, elections should be completed by the last week of February, 2013.
In the mean time, the Congress leaders in the state started making comments which are very dangerous to democracy and free and fair elections. Some of the comments of the Congress leaders are:
We have already made a complaint to the EC about the objectionable speech made by State Congress president Sudip Roy Barman on November 9 in a rally of the OBC people in Agartala. There he remarked, “In no circumstances, Left Front would be allowed to form the government for the seventh term. To ensure this, we will take all measures that are required”.
After returning from Delhi, Ratan Lal Nath, the leader of opposition said in a press conference on June 29, 2012 “We had managed the EC to conduct a free and fair election this time like that in 1988”.
Subal Bhowmik, Congress MLA, while addressing the Congress followers at Melaghar on November 17 said, “Until and unless the correct voter list is not made, no election shall be allowed to be held. If necessary, election may be held under President’s Rule.”
Such utterances made by the leaders of a national party which is a ruling party at the centre, naturally created suspense and apprehension among a large section of the people as to whether the election to the Tripura assembly would be held in time.
You may be aware that Tripura has a good reputation for having cent percent photo identity cards and maximum error-free rolls in the country. Tripura also tops in the country in regard to voters turn out. The draft electoral roll is not a product of an overnight exercise. It is revised every year through an extensive exercise by BLOs and BLAs of all political parties. The present draft electoral roll which is now being updated, is basically the final electoral roll published in January this year. It is surprising that, while Congress party had no complaint in any earlier years’ rolls nor about the Final Electoral Roll 2012 published just January this year, they find so many irregularities on the same roll published on September 20, as draft.
Under the above circumstances, we sense ulterior plan behind the present drive of the Congress to postpone the final publication of the electoral rolls which may cause deferment of election schedule and also drag the state into President’s Rule.
So it is the responsibility of the Election Commission to remove all suspicions created by the Congress party about the holding of elections according to schedule.