Trinamool says free and fair elections not possible with ‘partisan and biased’ Election Commission

A six-member delegation met the Election Commission in Delhi to raise the incident of clashes in Nandigram

In a direct attack on the Election Commission (EC), the Trinamool Congress has said that the “partisan and biased approach” of the panel has made “free, fair and transparent elections” in West Bengal a distant reality.

A six-member delegation met the EC in Delhi to raise the incident of clashes in Nandigram on Thursday.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that free, fair and transparent elections in the State of West Bengal is 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 EC said.

The TMC particularly flagged the EC’s decision of not permitting the State police within 100 metres of a polling station. The EC has noted that only Central forces will be deployed close to the polling stations. The TMC said that this was an “unprecedented” decision and cast aspersions on the reputation of the police administration in the State. The EC had not taken such a decision for the other three States and Union Territory of Puducherry holding simultaneous polls. The TMC also sought to remind the Commission that the State police had worked with governments led by other political parties too.

“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 party also expressed disappointment with EC for not agreeing to their demand to tally the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) results with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in every booth. The EVM-VVPAT are tallied in a randomly selected sample. The EC has argued that tallying each and every EVM with the VVPAT will delay the counting and declaration of results. To back its claim, the EC has quoted the Supreme Court judgment ahead of the 2019 elections, which allowed for tallying of only a randomly selected sample instead of the entire lot.

“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. Only a 100 % tallying of VVPAT and EVMs could assure the voters that his/her choice had indeed been recorded, TMC said.

The party asked the EC to withdraw both these decisions. The memorandum was signed by Rajya Sabha floor leader Derek O’ Brien and Rajya Sabha MP Nadimul Haque, Lok Sabha MPs Saugata Roy, Mahua Moitra, former MP Pratima Mondal and Yashwant Sinha, who recently joined the party.

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