Kolkata, April 29 (IANS) The Election Commission on Friday barred jailed Trinamool Congress heavyweight Madan Mitra, currently admitted to a hospital, from using any mobile phone and also restricted his meetings.
“In accordance with the Election Commission’s order, the state home secretary has issued an order to ensure no one other than family members can visit Madan Mitra in hospital and also he can’t use any mobile phone during his stay,” said a poll panel official.
The EC’s move comes in the wake of the opposition’s demand for continuous surveillance on Mitra claiming he might use his influence to disrupt the poll process.
Ever since Mitra – a prime accused in the multi-crore rupee Saradha scam – was on Tuesday admitted to the state-run SSKM Hospital, the Congress, BJP and the Left Front have been alleging that his hospitalisation was a “ploy to use his influence” in the fifth phase of the assembly polls in 53 constituencies spread across Kolkata, South 24 Parganas and Hooghly districts.
Both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party on the day had moved the EC alleging that Mitra, being a resident of Bhabanipur, “can use his influence from the hospital” also located in the area, to “manipulate voting” in the constituency where polling will be held on Saturday.
The opposition parties welcomed the step.
“The realisation of an impending defeat has made the Trinamool nervous and desperate. Mitra was hospitalised with the sole motive that he could freely interact with disruptive elements from there. We welcome the EC’s move but it would have been better if he was put under 24×7 video monitoring,” said Congress leader Abdul Mannan.
Both the Communust Party of India-Marxist and the BJP echoed similar views.
Mitra has been behind bars since his arrest on December 12, 2014, except for a brief period in October 2015 when he was granted bail by a lower court. The relief was subsequently cancelled by the Calcutta High Court.
Indo-Asian News Service