Bengal civil society members meet poll panel, seek CEO’s removal

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Kolkata, April 14 (IANS) A group of civil society members including Academi award winner poet Sankha Ghosh and former apex court judge Ashok Ganguly on Thursday met the full bench of the Election Commission and sought the immediate removal of West Bengal chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta for failing to take strong action to ensure free and fair assembly polls so far.

“We have demanded immediate removal of the CEO. He is a very soft person. He is incapable of taking strong action,” Ganguly told the media after meeting the poll panel.

The civil society members handed over a eight-point memorandum to Chief Election Commissioner Naseem Zaidi, and expressed concern at the way leader of the opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra was “gheraoed and heckled” by ruling Trinamool Congress activists on the polling day (April 11) at Narayangarh, from where he is seeking re-election.

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“This is undesirable and against the code of conduct for elections. If this continues, violence is inevitable. So steps should be taken to stop this,” said Ganguly.

Complaining of massive electoral malpractices and violence during polling on April 4 and 11, he said: “When these incidents were taking place, the central forces were not seen anywhere. Even the state police forces were not visible. We expect a more pro-active role from them.”

In a reference to threats issued by Birbhum district Trinamool president Anubrata Mondal that opposition would “Vanish” on the day of the upcoming poll there (April 17), Ganguly said: “We have sought legal action against pro-ruling party criminals who have threatened to conduct the elections the way they want.”

Among others in the delegation were theatre activists Kaushik Sen and Chandan Sen, social activist Bolan Gangopadhyay, educationist Mirat-ul-Nahar and painter Samir Aich.

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Kaushik Sen said thespian Soumitra Chatterjee and noted film director Aparna Sen, who signed the memorandum, could not be part of the delegation due to personal reasons.

“We told Zaidi that we had given deputation to the CEO two-threee times, but nothing happened. HE said he would look into the complaints, and had already collected some information,” said Chandan Sen.

“Our aim is to ensure a free and fair democratic environment where people can cast their own votes without fear,” said Gangopadhyay.

“I am in agreement with what the memorandum says. That’s why I am here,” said Ghosh.

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