The state government was compelled to decide on not allowing the release of PCAPA leader and independent candidate from Jhargram, Chhatradhar Mahato, on parole for campaigning.
The Election Commission had said that although there was no bar on Mahato campaigning under the law, the state administration had to take the final call on the issue of giving the real effect to the relevant rules and procedures.
Lobbing the ball in the state’s court, the commission had ruled that since he is an undertrial and is being held in judicial custody at present, his release on parole and his personal safety and security involving his poll-related activities thereafter, would depend entirely on the authorities concerned.
Ill at ease to clarify the government’s predicament, a home department official sought to argue that although Mahato was being held under the Centre-imposed UAPA the state’s refusal to free him for electioneering has to an extent helped him lionise further before the voters.
Yet, the administration could not risk Mahato’s election campaign across the tribal-dominated and Maoist-infested constituency even by providing him maximum possible armed security.
Thus, knowing full well that an imprisoned Chhatradhar Mahato provided far more ammunition to Jangalmahal adivasis than a briefly freed rebel symbolising anti-establishment protests, the government chose to bite the dust as being an insensitive one against popular democratic aspirations and hold him behind bars.