Home NEWS 8-phase WB polls controlling political violence and governance in focus of EC

8-phase WB polls controlling political violence and governance in focus of EC

by Soumadeep Bagchi

Nirmalya Mukherjee

The 8 -phase polls in Bengal’s 294 assembly seats and a single-phase election in 234 seats of Tamilnadu has raised eyebrows. Questions are raised on its justification. Such a question is value-less as the Election Commission is the highest authority to decide on the pattern of holding polls and all political parties accept it naturally. State Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee however stood apart and hinted of EC getting converted into a BJP platform.
As per EC records there is about 7.33 crore voters in the state of which 20.45 lakh are new voters. The names of around 5.99 lakh voters have been dropped in the 2021 Bengal polls. Bengal’s population is around 9crore. The number of polling booths in the state has also gone up from 77 thousand to more 1.11 lakh. Polls will be held in Bengal from 27th March to 29th April in 8-phases.
After the 2019 Lok Sabha polls TMC was ahead in 164 seats as against BJP’s 121 seats. THC secured 22 seats and BJP 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. BJP’s vote share surged from 11 per cent to 41 per cent and TMC 44 per cent. In 2011 and 2016 assembly polls BJP secured 4 and 11 per cent and TMC got 39 and 45 per cent votes
TMC alleged that EC is conducting part and phase wise elections in districts and seats where TMC is strong. Mamata Banerjee has challenged EC on a political platform and said “ BJP is going to lose hands down and TMC will emerge as a sure winner’’. It shows that Mamata is considering the EC as a BJP platform, although she spoke of her highest regards for EC.
Out of 23 districts EC has order 2 and 3 – part polls in 8 districts. They are South 24 pargana – 3 parts poll, Midnapore (west & east) – 2 part, North 24 pargana – 2 part, Howrah and Hooghly 2 parts each, Kolkata – north and south – 2 parts each, Malda and Murshidabad – 2 parts each. A fuming Mamata Banerjee said, “ we are strong in S 24 Parganas and therefore the EC is holding a 3-part poll’.
According to experts, it is unlikely that a mature politician will ever question the authority of EC although he or she reserves the right to do so. EC is one of the five constitutional authorities whose ways of functioning are usually not challenged. Mamata’s anger against EC is somewhat unrelated and unwarranted as polls are also being held in states and union territory where BJP is not in power like Tamilnadu and Kerala and Puducherry. Out of the 5 states going to polls in March and April, BJP is in power in one state – Assam.
TMC supremo’s anger against EC is misplaced, according to experts. In their opinion it could be a reflection of a poor law and order situation in the state and rising political violence. The number of booths and voters have also increased. Therefore, additional CAPF will be required to man and manage the booths and voters. Barring Assam where a 3-phase poll in being held, in Tamilnadu, Kerala and Puducherry single phase polls will take place by 6th April. As result, additional CAPF can be easily moved into Bengal to manage the 31 per cent surge in booths and rise of voters.
Some however feel that as a politician Mamata has only spoken her mind as she would like to make EC’s poll preparation in West Bengal an election issue. As a six-time MP and two term Chief Minister of the state, she is also aware that EC is the highest authority almost the like Speaker in Parliament and state assemblies when they are in session. What might have peeved the TMC most is the appointment of double police observers like Vivek Dubey and Mrinal Kanti Das alongside Ajay Jain as IAS observer. In 2019 Lok Sabha polls Dubey was also an observer. Mamata said, “we are aware of his performance’’.
Significantly CEC Sunil Arora began announcing poll dates after saying “ ok are you ready Sudeep’? Sudeep Jain is considered EC’s points man in Bengal 2021 polls. As Deputy Election Commissioner, he is in charge of EVM’s and has picked up kudos after the BJP-JDU NDA combine won the Bihar polls in November 2020. Jain was given two extensions to cover Bihar and now Bengal polls after he retired in June 2020.

This news article is prepared or accomplished by Nirmalya Mukherjee in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of kolkatatoday.com


Related Articles

Leave a Comment