As predicted in an earlier article, the inevitable clash between Bengal government machinery and Election Commission has occurred. Chief Election Commissioner V.S.Samphat has cracked his whip on errant district magistrates and police supers. People accused of being partisan are likely to be shunted out within the next 48 hours.
A full bench of the election commission met representatives of different political parties. Later they also met district magistrate (D.M) and police super (S.P) of all districts. What was aptly evident from the beginning was that the state is under E.C’s scanner. There have been reports of intimidating poll officials by local TMC cadres in places like Habra and Howrah. It has been suggested that in many places D.M and S.P ranked officials have not done their best to shield their juniors so as to ensure free and fair polls. E.C took cognizance of the entire situation and even publicly rebuked some of the officials. Some were told to stop when they tried to mumble some faint excuses. S.P of West Midnapore Bharti Ghosh was particularly taken to task. She has been accused of meeting didi’s right hand man Mukul Roy even after model code of conduct came into existence. In total as many as 6 S.P and D.M of Howrah may get transferred very soon.
Livid Opposition and cautious E.C
The opposition parties expectedly accused the ruling party of promoting violence to get a walkover in the polls. They believe TMC is trying to do santrash (terror) like they did in last years’ Panchayat elections. But Mukul Roy countered this allegation saying that there have been hardly any political murders. Alluding to the fact that polls will continue till 6 p.m this time, TMC general secretary said that law and order has improved dramatically in last 3 years. Most of the opposition parties charged Chief Election Officer (CEO) of Bengal Sunil Gupta for being grossly ineffective. Some accused him of just acting as a letter box forwarding complaints to his bosses in Delhi. Questions were raised on effectiveness of various steps taken by Gupta. But C.E.C Sampath gave Gupta a clean chit. The only saving grace for government is the fact that E.C is reasonably happy with law and order situation. But they are unwilling to take any chances. There will be nearly 400 companies OF CRPF forces deployed in the 5 phase polls here. It is double of last time. Every polling booth will have at least two armed police officer.
Paid media allegation
The ruling party under fire from all sides have resorted to “offence is the best defence” policy. Taking a leaf from Kejriwal’s book it has alleged the media to be paid agents, to misinterpret court observations as orders. Off late TMC has been embarrassed with details of supposedly closed door meetings getting leaked. According to TMC, it is undemocratic of EC to take cognizance of words said in intra party parleys and immoral of media to highlight it. TMC’s diatribe against media has left many amused. Only a year back, when chit funds were an “in” thing in Bengal, many media outlets propped up. They were accused of being blatantly pro Trinamool in their editorial policy. The allegation of paid news was levelled against the ruling regime which was promptly rejected. Now the wheel has come full circle.
While opposition parties will try to score brownie points and TMC leaders will sulk over EC’s attitude, truth is that nothing is likely to change dramatically in the grassroots. Left’s organisation is just a shadow of itself and it hopes to get seats mostly by vote division. Thus even with EC scanner, TMC is likely to rule the roosts come May 16th.