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CPI(M) skirts Govt. order to look for EC on wall graffiti

By Staff
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Kolkata,Mar 1: Even though the West Bengal Government has banned wall graffiti throughout the state, the CPI(M) chooses to walk on a different line throwing a curious smokescreen on the pre-poll political scene.

Though remaining stoic about the merit of the blanket ban before the coming assembly elections, the party is only looking for a guideline from the Election Commission to go by, making its stand clear on the government order.

''I have written to the EC seeking its instructions on wall writing. We are waiting for a reply soon,'' CPI(M) State Secretary Anil Biswas said.

Indicating that the party was not ready to obey the government order till the EC, the ultimate arbiter in the poll-related matters, came up with a clear directive, Mr Biswas said he had also obtained legal opinions on the issue.

In a move which even took a lead ahead of the EC, going tough in the poll-bound state, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government extended on February 17 the ambit of the West Bengal(Prevention of)Defacement of Property Act, 1976 prohibiting all kinds of writings on public, private and corporate buildings.

While the EC, in its directive in the past had allowed wall campaigns with the permission of the house owner, the state Act does not leave any room for political parties even for permission stipulating stringently that nothing except name and address of the occupant would be allowed to be written.

The Act, which came into being during the regime of the previous Congress government, headed by Mr.Siddhartha Sankar Ray, had been in force only in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation areas, though only on papers.

But that the state government was serious in its move was clear when it followed up the order with a notification on February 27 and Home Secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray instructed police to enforce the Act. The Director General of Police and the Police Commissioner were also asked to take action against those failing to clean up the walls they had already 'defaced' by putting up poll graffitis.

But considering the implications of the Act, sought to be implemented in a state where wall writing had been the traditional mode of campaign for all political parties, the suo moto action of the government raised a few eyebrows.

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