Election Commission has a lot to answer: four questions on Bengal to start with

Election Commission of India stands accused of acting at bidding of the Centre. It is being called Election ‘Omission’ of India. When it finally did act on Bengal, its conduct led to more questions

Election Commission has a lot to answer: four questions on Bengal to start with

NH Web Desk

West Bengal is one of the two states where at the very beginning of the poll process, the Election Commission removed a clutch of senior officers , including the Chief Secretary and the Calcutta Police Commissioner. The EC also ordained for polling to stretch across seven phases in West Bengal with 42 seats in the Lok Sabha, although Tamil Nadu with 39 seats had a one-day poll.

But if the logic was to ensure adequate central forces and peace, the poll panel has clearly failed. And its decision to stop campaigning in Bengal a day before schedule but two days after the vandalism at Kolkata on Tuesday, have raised uncomfortable questions.

  • Why has the Election Commission removed West Bengal’s Principal Home Secretary Atri Bhattacharya ?: Reports are that Bhattacharya, a senior IAS officer, had written to the Election Commission drawing its attention to complaints of misconduct against central security forces in some places. This was construed by the poll panel as interference in the conduct of elections. Bhattacharya was last evening ordered to report to the Home Ministry at 10 am on Thursday. How was this letter related to Tuesday’s violence?
  • Why has the EC not removed the Calcutta Police Commissioner of its choice? The poll panel had ordered the removal of the Calcutta Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in March. He was shifted to the post of ADGP (CID) and replaced by an officer nominated by the EC. If he is not held for the violence in Calcutta on Tuesday evening at Amit Shah’s Road Show, why has Rajeev Kumar been ordered to report to Delhi on Thursday?
  • Why has the EC not released its own video footage? If the poll panel is convinced that BJP supporters were not be blamed for violence that followed Amit Shah’s Road Show, despite several video footage suggesting vandalism by people with saffron head gear and T-shirts emblazoned with ‘Namo Again’, why hasn’t the EC released its own video footage and the report by its Observer ?
  • What is the EC’s stand on outsiders? Multiple media reports have suggested that a large number of BJP workers and supporters have been travelling to the state and putting up in hotels and guesthouses. A BJP candidate Bharti Ghosh has publicly threatened Trinamool supporters that she would get a thousand goondas from Uttar Pradesh and ensure that every bone in their body is broken. Despite complaints lodged against the former police officer, the EC is yet to take action. Does it approve of political parties transporting workers from adjoining states to manage elections?

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