EC snubs CPI-M, defends decision on two-phase poll in Gujarat

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Ahmedabad, Oct 12 (UNI) The Election Commission today snubbed the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for alleging that the EC was ''applying different yardsticks'' for different states for holding elections, and defended its decision to conduct a two-phase poll in Gujarat.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N Gopalaswamy, while speaking to newspersons here, said the Commission had decided to hold the May 2006 Kerala Assembly elections in three phases on the basis of DGP's report, which had sought 300 Companies of Central forces for conducting free and fair polls.

He said the DGP had said that if 120 companies are deployed, then the elections should be held in two phases. But, the Central Government was able to spare only less forces, therefore the Commission decided to hold elections there in three phases.

The CPI(M) politburo had yesterday expressed surprise that polling in Gujarat would be held only in two phases despite the fact that the state had witnessed large-scale communal violence and there was an atmosphere of intimidation against the minorities. The May 2006 Assembly elections in Kerala were held in three phases although elections in Kerala have always been a single-phase affair and the state had no history of poll violence and malpractice.

Citing the example of West Bengal, the CEC said the Commission had decided to hold elections in West Bengal in five phases because of higher number of booths. Around 2,750 companies of Central forces were deployed in West Bengal as the number of booths was around 50,000. In the case of Gujarat, location-wise there are only 23,700 booths and, so, the requirement of Central forces will be less, Mr Gopalaswamy said adding that this was the reason why the Commission had decided to hold two-phase election in Gujarat.

UNI

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