Kolkata, July 6: The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Saturday stayed away from the all-party meeting convened by the State Election Commission here to discuss the upcoming panchayat polls in West Bengal, prompting opposition Congress and CPI(M) to accuse the ruling party of disrespecting a constitutional body. The TMC, however, said it had informed SEC of its decision through a fax message.
"We had informed SEC in a fax that we will not be present. Earlier on only one all-party meet was convened. The SEC had taken all decisions unilaterally, without any discussion. It had unilaterally announced the counting date. So by being present in the meeting we would only endorse its unilateral decisions. So we decided against it," said state Industries minister Partha Chatterjee said.
Leaders from the opposition parties, Congress and CPI(M), who attended the meeting, expressed surprise over TMC's absence and termed it as "unprecedented". "This is unprecedented. Never before in the 40 years of my political career have we seen a ruling party being absent in an all-party meet. This is nothing but disrespect to a constitutional body like SEC," Congress leader Manas Bhuniya said after the meet.
CPI(M) state secretariat member Rabin Deb said: "It is really a matter of concern that the ruling party is absent. It only shows its disregard of constitutional and democratic norms. We had wanted the issue of rectification of voter list to be brought up before it." The opposition alleged that TMC had ushered in a reign of terror in rural Bengal in a bid to terrorize the masses before upcoming pancahayat polls.