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TMC says free & fair elections not possible with 'partisan & biased' EC

Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress submitted a deputation to the Election Commission of India on Friday stating that the "partisan and biased approach" of the poll panel has made "free, fair and transparent elections" in Bengal a distant reality. Bengal is going for Assembly polls in eight phases from March 27.

A six-member Parliamentary delegation of TMC comprising Rajya Sabha floor leader Derek O'Brien, Rajya Sabha MP Nadimul Haque, Lok Sabha MPs Saugata Roy, Mahua Moitra, Pratima Mondal and Yashwant Sinha, who recently joined the party, met the Commission in Delhi and submitted a memorandum flagging off some important issues about proposing to put only Central forces within 100 metres of the polling booth, the deployment of Central forces much ahead of the elections and only five per cent of VVPAT checking as supposed to 100 per cent.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that free, fair and transparent elections in the state of West Bengal are becoming a distant reality. This is evident from the partisan and biased approach taken by the Election Commission of India," the party's memorandum submitted to the EC read. Raising the issue of the state police not being permitted within 100 metres of a polling station, as decided by the EC, the ruling party in Bengal has claimed that the decision is "unprecedented" and cast severe aspersions on the reputation of the police administration in Bengal.

The memorandum has reiterated that the EC had not taken such a decision for the other three poll-bound states and the Union Territory of Puducherry holding simultaneous elections.

"Propriety demands that there should be proper coordination between the State and Central forces to ensure free and fair elections and that combined groups of both State and Central police forces be deployed within 100 metres of the polling station," the memorandum said.

The delegation has also raised the issue that the Central forces involved in area domination have created apprehension among a section of rural people particularly because of the difference in language. TMC has urged the EC to carry out proper sensitisation among the forces about this. The TMC claimed that the Commission has agreed on the point and has assured them of doing the needful.

Reiterating that only a 100 per cent tallying of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) and Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) could assure the voters that his/her choice had indeed been recorded, TMC has urged the Commission to tally EVM results with VVPAT in every booth. "It may be noted that the very purpose of installing VVPAT machines at considerable costs has deliberately been made redundant and ineffective," the party memorandum said. The EC, quoting a Supreme Court judgment ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls that allowed tallying of only a randomly selected sample instead of the entire lot, has argued that the exercise of tallying each and every EVM with the VVPAT will delay the counting and declaration of results. The party has asked the EC to withdraw both these decisions.

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