Couple of setbacks courtesy Election Commission and then a slight relief handed by Calcutta High Court. All in a day’s work for the ruling party of Bengal in an election which is fast turning out to be extremely roller coaster ride.
Minister’s relative arrested
In an incident related to poll violence in Maldah district, seven TMC members have been arrested including relative of a state minister. There have been repeated allegations of TMC leaders and workers getting involved in various shenanigans notwithstanding the strict orders of Election commission. In places like Howrah and Habra, EC workers were manhandled by TMC cadres. That lead to entire standoff with EC shunting out officers, didi opposing vehemently only to relent at the end. Looks like TMC workers have not learnt their lessons from it. Just a couple of days TMC workers organised a bike ralley at Manikchak in Maldah district. Son in law of Minister Sabitri Mitra was leading the pack. Now bike rallies have been declared illegal by Election Commission. Thus when some EC officials went to stop them, they were bashed up. The entire incident was recorded and flashed in vernacular news channels time and again. After receiving complaints, EC asked DG to take action within a time frame. Perhaps finally realizing the stern nature of EC’s dictate, the state has acted promptly arresting 7 workers. TMC leaders would like to believe that the unbiased nature of government has been shown by this incidence. Even Sabitri Mitra has said that anybody who is guilty should be promptly punished. But many believe facing flak from all corners, the state government was virtually forced to comply with the orders. It does not have much to do with projecting neutrality.
Police observers in all constituencies
The fact that EC is currently looking at the state with great trepidation is not lost with anybody. In an unprecedented move, the Commission has decided to appoint police observers for all the 42 constituencies in the state. This was one of the main demands of the opponent parties when they met the full team of EC last Sunday. The allegation was that the police officers are working in cahoots with the state government. Neutrality was being the greatest martyr. Earlier observers were appointed for only 17 constituencies. Now looking at the gravity of the situation, EC obviously doesn’t want to take any chance. These IPS officers will look how fairly the police officers are doing their duty and will accordingly record to the EC. Incidentally it was Mamata Banerjee who first convinced EC to send in special observers for 2011 Assembly polls. She was in the opposition at that point of time and CPIM was in rampage. Just in 3 years, the situation has reversed completely.
Saved further blushes
The only silver lining for the ruling party in this time of reverses came from High Court. In a murder case of last year, name of an influential TMC leader Anubrato Mandal has been dragged. It is alleged that strongman of Birbhum, Anubrato had something to do with murder of Sagar ghosh, a disgruntled TMC leader. The matter came to the court and judge was extremely harsh on the government. He asked why Anubrato was seen in public rallies with Mamata Banerjee. Facing tough questions, the state approached a division bench headed by the chief justice of Calcutta High Court Arun Mishra. The division bench has put a stay order in the case for 3 weeks and now it will be heard by them. Irrespective of what happens, by that time elections would be over in Birbhum thus saving the ruling party from possible further blushes. Every day is throwing up interesting new developments and common people are looking closely….