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HindustanTimes Mon,14 Jul 2014

SEC to use violence as lever for seeking paramilitary forces

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, April 12, 2013
First Published: 17:47 IST(12/4/2013) | Last Updated: 17:49 IST(12/4/2013)

The political violence in the state as an aftermath of the heckling of Amit Mitra in New Delhi could bolster the State Election Commission’s argument about the deteriorating law and order situation of the state and the ineffectiveness of the state police in tackling the mess.

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State Election Commission counsel Samaraditya Pal told HT on Thursday that he would raise the topic of widespread violence in the state before the court on Tuesday, the date of the next hearing in the case between the Mamata Banerjee government and the SEC over the coming panchayat polls.

“I’d wish to submit before the court a report on the ongoing violence in the next hearing. Besides, I’m sure the judge is also watching everything in the media,” Pal said.

From Tuesday evening, hours after news about Mitra’s heckling spread, political clashes between the Trianmool Congress and the CPI(M) broke out across the state. In almost all places, the CPI(M) was at the receiving end, with more than 100 party offices ransacked or burned down and party members thrashed.

Trinamool Congress supporters carrying flags blocked roads and trains and even ransacked colleges and universities on Wednesday. “We’ve already briefed our counsel about all these aspects and he’ll do whatever’s appropriate,” a senior SEC official said.

The SEC had been steadfastly demanding deployment of the paramilitary forces as a pre-condition for notifying the panchayat polls, since they were apprehensive of violence that would be difficult for the state police to control. Their apprehensions were based on inputs based on statements by district magistrates and superintendents of police across Bengal.

During the hearing on Thursday, Pal told the court that, even though the SEC had been citing reasons for why the polls could not be held in December (2012), January (2013) or February (2013) as demanded by the state government, the latter never challenged the reasons or rubbished them. Instead, the administration was adamant on holding the elections in either December or January. “Had the elections been held in December, the newly elected members would have had to sit idle until June (2013), when the term of the present panchayat comes to an end. Such a situation would not only have triggered chaos, but would also have become explosive,” Pal said to the court.

He pointed out that at least on two occasions, the SEC had come up with tentative dates based on statistics, but the state had merely changed the calendar and remained adamant although their decisions were “not well-informed” and merely kept on repeating the same things which it had been saying in its previous letters.

“It was way back in October 1, 2012, that the SEC had suggested four tentative dates for holding the elections in four phases in May 2013 - on May 4, May 8, May 12 and May 15. The counting was to be held on May 16,” Pal told the court while reading out the letter sent by the SEC to the state government.

“The government’s decision couldn’t be accepted by the SEC since it was not blindfolded. The SEC is an independent body with an independent mind. It can’t accept coloured decisions,” Pal told the court.


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