Left Front crititices poll schedules for West Bengal
Kolkata, Mar 2: Terming the election schedules as 'discriminatory' for West Bengal, the ruling Left Front today said it was not welcoming the Election Commission's decision to hold a five-phase poll in the state.
''The EC's decision to conduct polls in the state in five phases is unnecessary, unwarranted and unprecedented. But despite that we accept it,'' the Front partners said expressing displeasure at a meeting.
The Election Commission yesterday announced that polls would be held in the state on April 17, 22, 27, May 3 and 8.
Observing that this was the first time that polling would be held in five phases in any state, the Front was of the view that even in states like Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar elections were stretched only over four phases. ''But considering the law and order situation in the state, West Bengal does not deserve a similar treatment...We have accepted the EC decision, but we do not welcome it,'' Left Front Committee Chairman Biman Bose said after the meeting.
He pointed out that for the states going to polls simultaneously with West Bengal, the EC had decided to conduct elections on a single day in Tamil Nadu, having the number of constituencies close to that in West Bengal while polls would be held in two phases in Assam, which had a bigger geographical area, as well as in a tiny union territory like Pondicherry. ''This shows that the schedules are discriminatory,'' he said.
Expressing concern for the students appearing for various examinations during or close to the 22-day poll schedule, Mr Bose said altogether 1.3 million examinees would be affected by the EC decision as the dates would clash. ''The interests of examinees were not considered while preparing the schedule, which the EC should have done,'' he said.
Besides the Secondary and Higher Secondary examinations of the State Board and Council respectively, there would be graduation examinations of both Kolkata and Visva-Bharati Universities and the Joint Entrance test for those aspiring to become engineers and doctors, Mr Bose said. ''We feel concerned about the examinees as they and their guardians are likely to face big problems because of the elections,'' he said.
Mr Bose said it had been a common practice to take into account the dates and time of various regional festivals, examinations and other aspects, but this time it was not done.
Yesterday CPI(M) State Secretary Anil Biswas had also described the EC's decision as unprecedented and unnecessary and wondered why West Bengal had been treated separately from the other states while preparing poll schedules.
However, Mr Bose said the Front would carry on with its electioneering putting thrust on door-to-door campaign and small workers' meetings in view of the ban put by the State Pollution Control Board on the use of microphone till April 13 because of the Madhyamik examinatioins.