TMC urges ECI to return to older system of appointing polling agents

The TMC accused the ECI of being biased and said that the reasons given for changing the rule were ambiguous. Passing this new rule just before WB election was “arbitrary, motivated and biased”

Mamata Banerjee
The TMC has written a letter to the ECI urging it to revert to the older system of appointing polling agents. Photo: PTI

Even as the dust is yet to settle in the West Bengal audio clip controversy, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), has written a strong letter to the Election Commission of India (ECI) requesting them to return to the older system of appointing polling agents at booths in localities where they normally reside or from neighbouring ones in the same constituency, PTI reported on Sunday. (March 28)

The ECI’s new rule states that polling agents can be appointed from any part of an assembly constituency. The TMC now wants this order to be reversed and the old status to be restored.

Even as the first of the eight phases of West Bengal Assembly polls concluded on Saturday, the TMC has accused the ECI of being biased by changing the rule and not giving a clear reason for doing so.

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According to the ECI, they had changed the rule after collecting inputs from the candidates and considering their convenience. But the TMC however is not convinced by this statement by the ECI.

“Such reasoning is not only ambiguous in nature but also leads us to a conclusion that it has been implemented to help certain political parties, namely the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), due to them not possessing the strength to muster enough polling agents,” the party said in the letter, media reports stated. The letter said that passing this new rule just before the election in WB was “arbitrary, motivated and biased.

Earlier, the TMC had categorically stated that the new rule was unacceptable to them and believed that it was instigated by the BJP, who had submitted a memorandum to them. TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay reiterated that the new system was not acceptable to them.

“We demand that from the next phase, the polling agent must be local. The CEO has assured us to look into the matter,” Bandyopadhyay said on Saturday, after meeting ECI officials. The next phase of the West Bengal elections is scheduled for April 1.

A huge controversy has erupted between the two major parties contesting this Assembly election, when the BJP released an audio clip, which allegedly had Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urging Proloy Pal, a BJP leader from Nandigram, to rejoin TMC and help her win the seat.

The TMC was quick to respond by coming up with another audio tape, in which national Vice-President of BJP, Mukul Roy, is reportedly in discussions with industrialist and party leader Shishir Bajoria asked him to request the ECI to pass administrative orders permitting booth agents to be picked from anywhere in the state.