West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during an election rally ahead of the State Assembly elections, in East Midnapore on Sunday. (ANI Photo)
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during an election rally ahead of the State Assembly elections, in East Midnapore on Sunday. (ANI Photo)

'Revert to earlier rule on appointment of polling agents': TMC writes to EC

Claiming that the reason given by the poll panel for changing the rule was 'ambiguous', the TMC accused it of being biased.
Written by Prashasti Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2021 04:36 PM IST

The Trinamool Congress (TMC), the ruling party in West Bengal, wrote to the Election Commission of India urging the poll body to go back to the older system of appointment of polling agents under which contesting candidates appointed electors from the same polling stations or from neighbouring ones in the same constituency, news agency PTI reported on Sunday. According to the poll body's new rule, an elector from any part of an assembly constituency can now be appointed as a polling agent.

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Claiming that the reason given by the poll panel for changing the rule was 'ambiguous', the TMC accused it of being biased. “The reason for the same has been stated to be based on inputs and for the convenience of the candidates. Such reasoning is not only ambiguous in nature but also leads us to a conclusion that it has been implemented to help certain political parties, namely the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), due to them not possessing the strength to muster enough polling agents,” the party said.

The TMC, in the letter, said that the new rule was passed to benefit the candidates of BJP. “Such instruction passed by the Election Commission of India just before the scheduled date of election to take place in West Bengal is arbitrary, motivated and biased,” it said.

The party's letter to the commission comes a day after it condemned the new rule and said that it was 'unacceptable' to them. After meeting the poll watchdog’s officials, TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay claimed that the BJP submitted a memorandum that sought a change in the system. “The new system is not acceptable to us. We demand that from the next phase, the polling agent must be local. The CEO has assured us to look into the matter,” Bandyopadhyay said on Saturday, according to news agency ANI.

The first of the eight phases of West Bengal assembly polls was conducted on Saturday and the next phase is scheduled for April 1. The results will be announced on May 2.

(With agency inputs)

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