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CPI(M) questions EC's role and functioning

CPI-M also said BJP and other critics have failed to refute its arguments for reforming the poll panel.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2006 09:25 IST

Taking the BJP to task for criticising its stand on the Election Commission, the CPI-M has said the saffron party and other critics have failed to refute its arguments for reforming the poll panel.

In an article in the latest issue of the party organ People's Democracy, CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat questioned the EC's role on several aspects like whether the state police could be completely excluded from the poll process, the role of EC observers, their assumption of executive powers "riding roughshod" over state governments, banning of wall-writing as a means of campaigning and treating one state differently from another.

"Howsoever much (BJP leader) Arun Jaitley and the critics of the CPI-M may dismiss this vital issue, the public debate for reform of the EC cannot be avoided," he said.

Asserting that the EC "has to be made accountable", Karat quoted from BR Ambedkar's observations in the Constituent Assembly in 1949 while proposing that an "Instrument of Instructions" be enacted to provide a machinery for appointing election commissioners as well as the panel's chief.

Castigating Jaitley for saying that the CPI-M favoured "subjugation" of the EC to a monitoring body, he said while no "Instrument" as proposed by Ambedkar had been enacted by the Constituent Assembly, the CPI-M has suggested a constitutional mechanism to "monitor and check if the EC acts with political bias, usurps the powers of governments or does anything with malafide intention".

He said the Supreme Court too had advocated a mechanism to resolve differences between the poll body and the Central and state governments.

Drawing from poll experiences in West Bengal, where the Left won handsomely "despite the EC's efforts to thwart such a result", Karat asked whether it was right or wrong to completely exclude state police from manning polling booths.

"Will Jaitley agree to the state police in Gujarat being excluded completely from the poll process, given its proven communal bias," he asked and said the CPI-M could agree to joint stationing of state and Central forces.

Observing that the West Bengal polls had brought the role of central observers into sharp focus, Karat asked whether the EC could brief them "to conduct activities assuming executive powers, riding roughshod over the state administration" or whether they could order the arrest of people, including MPs and legislators, branding them Bangladeshis or bring down red flags even from offices of trade unions.

He also questioned the rationale behind holding five-phased polls in West Bengal as against four in Jammu and Kashmir and a one-day poll in Tamil Nadu and three days in Kerala.

"What sense is there in EC's decision to allow crores of rupees to be spent on advertising and the use of helicopters by parties like BJP and Congress while CPI-M is barred from deploying its cadres to write on walls of houses of citizens whose permission has been obtained," he said.

Karat claimed "the problem is that the EC had decided well in advance that elections in West Bengal are not held in a free and fair manner".

He said the EC "failed to comprehend" that it was Left politics which had deepened political participation in these states. "If there is 90 per cent polling in a booth, the EC orders a special enquiry, while it should be seen as a triumph of popular participation."

First Published: Sep 17, 2006 09:25 IST