Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has said that the State Election Commission should take all steps including deployment of more State and Central police forces to ensure a free and fair civic election in the district.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference here on Friday, Mr. Ravi said that threats to holding a free and fair polls were still prevailing in the district. It was the government’s responsibility to ensure freedom for candidates to participate in the campaign activities and for voters to cast their votes without fear. The police presence in sensitive booths in the district should be increased, he said adding that the Central police forces could also be posted in the district for holding the election peacefully.

Stating that the law and order situation in the State had been worse, he said that the people were wondering how the government that could not control hired criminal groups could ensure peace in the State. The coming local body election was a precursor to the Assembly election to be held after six months, he said. The State government had not done anything beyond spending funds sanctioned for Central schemes in the local bodies, he said adding that there was partiality even in utilising the Central funds.

Alleging that ‘Stalinist culture’ was growing in the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Mr. Ravi said that Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan’s statements could be seen as a dissenting voice opposed to this trend. The CPI(M) had already lost all the characteristics that it had when it was led by leaders such as A.K. Gopalan and E.M.S. Namboodiripad, he stated adding that today the party rank and file had no courage to oppose the leadership. The party had deviated from its own tradition, he noted.

The Union Minister said that the lottery scandal had exposed lack of transparency. When the lottery case had come up in court, the government argued not to win the case but to loose it, he said.

Finance Minister Thomas Isaac owed an explanation as to why the government had appointed an advocate to appear for it in the lottery case ignoring the fact that the previous government headed by Oommen Chandy had decided against making him appear in the case following an objection from Mr. Achuthanandan, who was then the Leader of the Opposition.

To a question, Mr. Ravi said that even if the LDF manged to get more votes in the coming local body election, it was in no way be treated as a justification of the LDF government’s performance. Reacting to a query on the CPI(M) leadership’s attacks on the clergy’s alleged intervention in political affairs, he wondered how the CPI(M) that had fielded priests in past elections could say that the clergymen could not speak on political issues.

The Minister said that the decision of Bahrain and Oman to stop sponsorship system would be a boon to large number of Malayalis working there. He also said the number of complaints from Indians working in the Gulf countries was less now as a result of effective intervention of the Ministry of of Overseas Affairs.