Anguished over "inaction" by the Election Commission's special observer in checking rigging of polls in West Bengal on April 30, Left parties today demanded his removal and repoll in 1,317 booths across nine Lok Sabha constituencies of the state.
A delegation of leaders of CPI(M) and CPI met top EC officials here and submitted a memorandum saying that in order "to restore the faith of the people at large, the special observer be withdrawn forthwith and action against the CEO West Bengal expeditiously initiated. Further, repoll be held as demanded in the representation."
The same demand was also made by the West Bengal Congress in Kolkata, with senior leader Adhir Chowdhury saying it was difficult to hold free, fair and peaceful poll under special observer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh.
In the memorandum signed by S R Pillai and Nilotpal Basu (both CPI-M) and D Raja (CPI), the Left parties expressed "hurt and anguish" at "the large scale rigging during the third phase of Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal." They said that in the light of what had happened during the local elections for panchayats and municipalities, "there was widespread apprehension about the integrity of the election process for Lok Sabha."
The appointment of the special observer had evoked hope of free and fair polls after he said all measures for security of the voters and the voting process have been made and "all booths will be covered by either the central forces or micro- observers or video/webcasting."
"But the experience on April 30 was completely different.
Not only were complaints ignored and not addressed by the observers, but the assurance that not only formal complaints from parties or voters but also response will be there from the election authorities to media reports, were completely ignored.
"Throughout the day the visual media telecast dozens of visuals of actual rigging and manipulation. On no single instance was there any response," the Left parties said.
They said "full three hours" before polling was to end, the observer announced to the media that polls have been free and fair, even though the media and political parties have "torn into" these claims.
"In recent times, never the credibility of the Election Commission has been brought under so much of question," the parties said, demanding removal of Rakesh and repoll in the large number of booths.