KOLKATA, 28 JUNE: The Supreme Court verdict today ordering five-phase rural poll in the state is a resounding slap on the face of the Mamata Banerjee government, which initially insisted the poll would be held only on a single day, then agreed to hold it in two and later three phases.
Also, the apex court ruling rebuffs the state government’s obduracy in not allowing Central forces to be deployed to ensure free and fair elections.
Despite the chief minister’s repeated claim that she wanted the poll since late last year, it is now clear her plan was to hold the crucial rural election on her terms. The poll schedule was to be drawn in such a manner that all the south Bengal districts ~ the Trinamul bastion ~ were clubbed together in one phase.
A key element of the plan was to conduct the poll under the supervision of a pliant state police, which would give a free run to armed ruling party activists on polling day.
The Saradha chit fund scam and several other anti-people acts of the new government made the exclusion of Central forces from the poll process of paramount importance. Hence, the dogged refusal to accommodate the poll panel’s vociferous demand for Central forces.
The Opposition allegation that Miss Banerjee was trying to subvert the democratic process might not be wholly true, but certainly, she was following in the footsteps of the Marxists to display muscle power during elections ~ a process she had promised to change.