Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is right in alleging lack of level playing field in current Assembly polls
If the results of May 2 give the BJP a decisive rebuff to its diabolic plans, it will be a big tribute to the fight for the survival of democratic functioning in India
The polling in the third phase of the state assembly elections in Assam and Bengal will be taking place on April 6. On the same day, the polling in two other states, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Union territory of Puducherry will also be completed. After that, only West Bengal will be going for polling in another five phases till April 29.
The eight phase polling in West Bengal is somewhat unprecedented which the Election Commission could have avoided by limiting the schedule to a maximum of five phases. If law and order is the only issue for resorting to this long haul in Bengal in this scorching summer, it could have been organised by adding another two phases at the maximum. The Central forces will be free after polling in three states and one Union territory after April 6 polling and a good portion of them could have been deployed in West Bengal to complete the process in five phases.
If in Kerala, where tempers ran quite high during the campaign, the polling could be completed in one day, in West Bengal, it could have been completed in five phases if the EC wanted. The EC machinery is quite experienced now and there should have been no problem in organising the reduced schedule.
But it was not done in West Bengal and there has been talk alleging a ‘BJP strategy’ behind this. The PM and other Union ministers have every right to campaign in state elections, but it never came to this dimension as happened with the present PM till now. He is visiting far off districts and declaring every day that the BJP is coming to power while his Home Minister is telling the officials that the new BJP government will take action against erring officials.
Since the BJP IT cell has created a hype that the BJP is coming to power and this is being echoed through thousands of apps promoted by BJP and Twitter handles, there must have been some impact on the serving officials in the state.
The prolongation of the polling process till April 29 in West Bengal suits BJP because the party is organisationally weak in many districts and this will help the party to mobilise its volunteers at ease from one place to another. PM Modi and Amit Shah will be all pervading in the campaign in West Bengal after April 6.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is right when he said that constitutional institutions are being used against the opposition. The EC first banned Assam BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma from campaigning for 48 hours according to the rule book on a charge which Sarma also admitted. But soon, pressure seems to have been mounted on EC as that would have cost the BJP campaign adversely, affecting its prospects in the third and last crucial phase of the election on April 6. The EC reduced that to 24 hours meaning that Himanta was free to campaign on the last day of campaigning.
Similarly, the IT department raided DMK leader Stalin's house and seized documents, which got big media publicity. This could have been done, if needed, after the polling on April 6. But this was deliberately done to show Stalin in poor light.
This is actually going to boomerang on the BJP-AIADMK alliance. But this showed how the Central agencies are being used by the Centre to serve the political interests of the ruling party.
Even an award like Dada Saheb Phalke award has been given to Rajinikanth just on the eve of the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu. This is a special award given by the government for a life time achievement. This can be awarded any time during the year. Why now when Rajinikanth has a massive fan base and he has some powers to influence his fans to any political party in his state?
Interestingly, Rajinikanth immediately thanked the Prime Minister for this. BJP has been trying to rope in Rajinikanth to the party for quite some time, but for some personal reasons, Rajini has not joined. Now his fans have got a signal before the polling on April 6.
Despite all these machinations of BJP to corner the opposition parties in the assembly elections, by making use of all undemocratic methods, indications are coming that things are not rosy at all for the BJP. In West
Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has put BJP on the back foot in the first two phases of polling. TMC is expected to improve its performance further in the coming six phases of elections.
If the results of May 2 give the BJP a decisive rebuff to its diabolic plans, it will be a big tribute to the fight for the survival of democratic functioning in India.
Views are personal