TMC attacks SEC, calls it biased

Ruling Trinamool Congress attacked State Election Commission, with which it is engaged in a tussle over the panchayat poll, of being `biased` in favour of the opposition parties.

Kolkata: Ruling Trinamool Congress on Friday attacked the State Election Commission, with which it is engaged in a tussle over the panchayat poll, of being `biased` in favour of the opposition parties and accused the erstwhile Left Front government of doubling the tenure of the present election commissioner to derive political benefit.
"The state election commission is biased in favour of the Opposition parties. And I suspect the draft of the letters it(SEC) is sending to the state government is being prepared in the office of a political party which is afraid of facing the polls," the TMC general-secretary Mukul Roy told a press conference here without naming any party.

The tenure of the present state election commissioner Mira Pandey was doubled to six years `unconstitutionally` by the erstwhile Left government in 2010 to derive `political benefit`, he said.

The then Left government had doubled Pandey`s tenure by effecting an amendment in the West Bengal State Election Commission Act with an eye on the 2013 panchayat polls. "This was not constitutional," Roy said without naming her.

"The tenure of the state election commissioner was doubled as the Left Front could forsee its dwindling political fortunes since 2008 and drubbing in the hustings in 2011 assembly election," he claimed.

Asserting that TMC was ready to face the panchayat polls, which the state government wanted to be held in February, Roy alleged that the state poll panel was `deliberately` delaying the election process to benefit the opposition politically.

TMC was confident of repeating its 2011 performance, when it ended the 34 year-long Left rule, in the panchayat polls too but the opposition parties were not eager to face the polls for `fear of defeat`, Roy, a former Railway Minister said.

Roy criticised the state election commissioner for meeting Governor M K Narayanan, who, he said, is a constitutional head and "has no role to play in the panchayat poll process."

He took a dig at the poll panel for insisting on deploying central forces during the panchayat poll.

"It is a well known fact that law and order is a state subject. TMC wants election. We are ready to face election any day, be it held under the supervision of military or the Interpol or any security body," he said.

The SEC, he alleged, had indulged in an exchange of a series of letters with the state government with the specific purpose of delaying the panchayat poll process.

"There had been at least 10 to 12 exchanges of communication by the state chief secretary, the home secretary and the panchayat secretary with the SEC but we do not find reason why election is not being held," the TMC leader said.

He criticised the SEC also for not issuing any election notification for the panchayat polls as yet even though the government had already announced two-phase polls on April 26 and 30.

The state government is for holding the panchayat polls under the state armed police and Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee had claimed that rural polls in Bengal had never been held under central forces.

"Law and order in West Bengal is better than any other state," he claimed.

Most of the panchayats are presently controlled by the Left Front and the rural poll is crucial to test the popularity of the major political parties in the state before the Lok Sabha election which is due next year.