NEW DELHI: A day after Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee alleged there were plans to detain her party workers ahead of voting in West Bengal at the instance of poll observers, the Election Commission said no instructions have been issued by any of its officers or observers to act against workers of any political party.
In a statement, the Commission said a section of the media has reported about “allegations” made the West Bengal Chief Minister that instructions have been given by some ECI officers and observers to arrest “TMC goons”.
“Such statements supposedly attributed to ECI officers and observers are absolutely baseless, false and misleading. No such instructions have been given by any observer, Chief Electoral Officer or officer of the Commission to act against workers of any party(ies),” the statement said.
Banerjee had on Saturday alleged that she has come to know that three special observers of the Election Commission have “ordered police officers to detain TMC workers” ahead of the voting exercise, and said that she would move the Supreme Court against this “conspiracy”.
Banerjee has often accused the Commission of being partisan, a charge rejected by the poll panel.
While the seventh phase of poll in the state will take place on Monday, the eighth and last phase is on April 29.
Referring to the TMC leader’s plan to move the court, the EC statement said no court case has so far been reported to the CEO, West Bengal’s office or the Commission “where any instance of preventive action against a non-criminal has come to the notice”.
“Misleading narratives apart, leave alone any court case, no specific instance of illegal preventive action against any worker of party has been reported till April 25. Conduct of free, fair, intimidation free and violence free election requires close monitoring of all miscreants and history-sheeters who have the potential to vitiate the polls.”
“Preventive actions under relevant provisions of CrPC, IPC are taken by all law-enforcing agencies to ensure they are prevented from creating any mischief,” the statement said.
There are standing instructions to law-enforcement agencies of all poll-going states to ensure compilation of list of miscreants based on criminal history, including involvement in election related-crime in the past, it said.
Action is taken and must be taken against such miscreants who have potential of scaring genuine voters in any manner, the poll panel said.
District election officers, commissioners of police, SPs, observers, chief electoral officer of the poll-going state and the Commission review and ensure that such lists are compiled timely and acted upon in an impartial manner, the statement noted.
“Commission or observers, for that matter, convey instructions in such matters through Chief Electoral officer,” it observed.
The TMC supremo, while addressing party members at an auditorium in Bolpur, Birbhum district, had said she had chanced upon WhatsApp conversations of the special observers.
“Enough is enough. I don’t have any issue if they (EC observers) work for free and fair elections but they have been working only to help the BJP. They want to finish off Trinamool,” the TMC boss had alleged.
“These officials are giving orders to detain our men the night before polls and keep them in custody till the next day. I have seen their WhatsApp conversations; they were given to me by a reporter. And it must have originally come from BJP men,” she said, showing the transcript of a purported chat between the special observers and top officials, including district magistrates and police superintendents.
Expressing outrage over the fact that an EC special observer has “named active TMC workers in the chat and branded them as trouble-mongers”, Banerjee claimed that the official has also “asked the police to arrest all of them so that they cannot be seen anywhere during the polling exercise”.
“In the chat, the special police observer described TMC activists as ‘goons’ who are not allowing BJP agents to carry out their work. Can the EC use such epithet against a party?” the TMC supremo said.