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Rotten branches a present danger   

Editor,

Through your esteemed newspaper, I wish to bring to the notice of the Forest Department concerned about the dangers posed by rotten tree branches which hang over public thoroughfares and main roads. On March 12, a young lady driving to her place of work, had a very narrow escape when, on taking the turn at the Deputy Commissioner’s office opposite Wards Lake, a large and rotten tree branch from the side of the D.C.’s office, fell right in front of her car – the thin branches were on the bonnet and the main trunk just inches away from the car’s front grill. A few seconds faster and the branch would have fallen right on top of the car – the young lady was saved by a miracle. Can we, therefore, request the concerned authorities to identify such rotten branches along our roads and to remove them before a more serious accident takes place?

Yours etc,

DM Pariat,

Via email

 Free & Fair General Elections, 2019

 Editor,

The general elections in India will be held in seven phases between April 11 and May 19 and the results will be declared on May 23, the Election Commission announced on Sunday (10th March, 2019). With the announcement of the poll schedule, the model code of conduct has kicked in. Assembly elections will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in four states of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim. The poll panel said that while Jammu and Kashmir will vote in the general election, there will be no simultaneous Assembly polls there because of the security situation.

There will be single-phase polling in 22 states and Union territories while Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will vote in each of the seven phases. The poll panel claimed the requirements of force movement had dictated the state-wise schedule.The electorate’s size is now close to 90 crore, up from the 81.45 crore in 2014. More than 1.5 crore voters are aged between 18 and 19, representing a population born this millennium.

For the first time use of the voter-verifiable paper audit trail machine with every electronic voting machine will be in use but the poll panel is yet to decide what percentage of the paper trail to count. Currently, one paper audit trail device per Assembly segment is tallied with the result on the voting machine, but there is a demand to raise the percentage to address tampering fears. Since the matter is sub-judice, the poll commission has set up a high powered committee of experts from the Indian Statistical Institute to look into the demand. The CEC is expecting the report before the poll process is over.

Although there is no adverse reaction about the schedule & phases of election from any other state, the front-line leaders/MLAs/spokespersons of the ruling party in West Bengal are trying to add communal colour to the time-schedule fixed by the Election Commission for the general election inciting religious sentiments. Indulging in such provocation is very unfortunate and a dangerous game for gaining political mileage. AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi has already asked parties to desist from using Muslims and Ramzan for political reasons dubbing Ramzan poll controversy as “uncalled for”. Some of the leaders are threatening the electorate that the central forces may be there for 2 to 3 days but thereafter the state-sponsored goons would spare none. So the Election Commission has to make plans in advance to combat exigency situation that may be created by the ruling dispensation and ensure that the voters are able to exercise their franchise fearlessly.

All the party/polling agents need to be protected inside the polling booth. No political leaders shall be allowed inside polling booth and debarred from coercing voters to vote to his/her party nominee as it happened in the past in Bengal. False voting (impersonation of voters), rigging and booth capturing by armed cadres and bikers are to be prevented by all means. Since there is a deteriorating law and order situation in Bengal the state police & Central forces have to guard/protect and encourage willing voters to cast their votes freely. Election Commission has to ensure free & fair election in the state of West Bengal.

Threats with dire consequence, terrorising and intimidating genuine voters/electorate of the constituencies by  Trinamul musclemen/ vandals/goons/supporters inspired by their acme leader during 2016 Assembly elections is still fresh in the memory of people of West Bengal.

This time during parliamentary elections it would be necessary for the Election Commission to guard all the declared sensitive constituency booths of the state with adequate force and order the central paramilitary forces to start patrolling immediately in all the villages for escorting the voters up to the polling booths for exercising  their franchise fearlessly and freely on the day of polling. This is absolutely necessary for the protection and continuance of Democracy in the country. The onus for the conduct of free and fair polls in all the seven  phases of election in the state of West Bengal  lies squarely on  the Election Commission of India.

Yours etc.,

Samares Bandyopadhyay

Advocate, Kolkata High Court

 

Thin attendance from Opposition

Editor,

It is very unfortunate that the attendance of the Opposition in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly was very thin on Tuesday, March 12 and Wednesday, March 13. Except for PT Sawkmie, the Opposition Chief Whip, H.M Shangpliang, Mohendro Rapsang, Lazarus Sangma, George Lyngdoh, Mayrylbon Syiem, Dr. Azad Zaman and few others most of the chairs in the Opposition benches were empty. In fact the Opposition in the Assembly comprises mainly of the Congress. It was reliably learnt that some of the members have left for Delhi for some urgent work. It would have been  beneficial to the House and the people of the State if all the members were to be present and taken active part in the deliberations and debates.

Yours etc.,

Philip Marwein,

Via email

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