Tuesday, May 6, 2008

With no observers, EC depends on state for Nandigram report : Express India (6.05.08)


It sounds ironical that the state election commission is dependent on the state administration for getting a first hand account of the prevailing situation in Nandigram at a time when the government itself has come under scanner for its role there.

Even as Opposition parties and group of intellectuals have blamed the state administrative machinery for not doing enough to restore peace in Nandigram, which has been rocked by fresh incidents of violence, the commission will be banking on the report of the state home secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarty for taking a final decision on holding the May 11 panchayat elections there.

The state election commission has sent both the SDPO and SDO to see whether the situation in Nandigram was conducive for holding polls. They have already assured the commission that the situation in Nandigram is normal.

“Apart from some stray cases, there has been no major incidence of violence in Nandigram,” said SN Roychowdhury, secretary, state election commission.

The state election commission has been also assured that there were no homeless people in Nandigram.

“They (the SDO and SDPO) told us that they did not find any person in the relief camps. When they had asked the local Trinamool leaders, the latter could not furnish any details (about the homeless people in relief camps) either. The SDO told us that even if there had been any such people, they had already left,” said Roychowdhury.

When asked if it had any independent source of information of its own, Roychowdhury said, “We have our own machinery — the observers. But we also have to rely on the information supplied to us by the government.”

In fact, most of the observers are still stationed in Kolkata as the commission made it clear that that the situation does not warrant the need for sending observers there immediately.

Central forces to be deployed from May 8, says Kanojia
The state government will get 25 companies of BSF from the Central government and 15 companies of armed police from Kerala, Tripura and Orissa during the elections. The Kolkata police are also contributing 4,000 personnel to the state police for the same purpose. This was announced by IG (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia.

“The Central forces will begin to arrive from May 8,” he added. Describing the situation in Nandigram as tense, Kanojia said that a portion of the Central forces will be deployed in Nandigram to help the state police.