“The Trinamool Congress government is involved in a drama, bent upon postponing the rural polls in 17 districts of West Bengal despite its claims to the contrary,” Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh said on Sunday.
Mr. Ramesh, who found it strange that the State government was against the deployment of Central paramilitary forces for the elections, said that behind the move to precipitate the present stalemate with the State Election Commission was “a strategy to defer the elections.”
“It has given rise to an unfortunate situation,” he added.
“5 or 6 Trinamools”
“This is the game plan of the government… The ruling Trinamool Congress is not only afraid of facing the Congress and the CPI(M) in the elections but also of the infighting within the party. No longer is there just one Trinamool Congress but five or six,” he told The Hindu over telephone while on his way to Darjeeling.
The likelihood of the elections not being held within the stipulated period (the last polls were held on May 11, 14 and 18, 2008) looms large with no breakthrough in sight in the ongoing impasse between the State government and the election panel which are locked in a legal battle.
The State government appearing before the Calcutta High Court on April 4 with a fresh schedule of poll dates had not in anyway helped resolve the gridlock, even though there is a view that it could be yet another ruse of the ruling party to demonstrate its ‘keenness’ to hold the election. The argument is that this could come in handy in the event of the ruling party being accused of derailing the poll process were the elections are to be deferred.
The central issue remains the differences between the two sides over the deployment of Central paramilitary forces for the poll process, with the State opposed to it and the Commission insisting that it is imperative for a free and fair election.
“Here is a Chief Minister who has always been insisting on deployment of Central paramilitary forces during the elections held when the Left was in power in the State. She was the greatest advocate of Central paramilitary forces then; suddenly this has changed, now that she is in the government,” Mr. Ramesh said.
“It is obvious that political compulsions govern the State government’s opposition to the deployment of Central paramilitary forces and insistence that the State Armed police and requisitioning of police forces from certain other States — if required — is ample to ensure a free and fair election,” he said.
“If the Congress does well in the panchayat elections which it will definitely do it will be a slap on her [Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chairperson, Mamata Banerjee’s] face. There is a method in her madness and this is it,” Mr. Ramesh claimed.