TMC writes to EC urging it to revert to earlier rule on appointment of polling agents

NEW DELHI: The Trinamool Congress has written to the Election Commission urging it to withdraw a recent order that relaxed a rule on the appointment of polling agents, and alleged that the EC had taken the step to help the BJP.

According to a March 2009 rule by the EC, polling agents who are appointed by the contesting candidates shall have to be electors in the same polling stations or from neighbouring polling stations falling in the same constituency.

However, the provision was amended recently to allow an elector from any part of an assembly constituency to be appointed as a polling agent.

“The reason for the same has been stated to be based on inputs and for the convenience of the candidates. 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 Trinamool Congress alleged in a letter to the EC dated March 26. The party released the letter on Sunday.

It claimed that the new instructions were made with a “mala fide intention to benefit the candidates of Bharatiya Janata Party”.

“Such instruction passed by the Election Commission of India just before the scheduled date of election to take place in West Bengal is arbitrary, motivated and biased,” it alleged and urged the EC to withdraw the direction and restore the earlier rule.

While the first of the eight phases of assembly polls in West Bengal was conducted on March 26, the second phase is on April 1.

A TMC delegation led by MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay had on Saturday raised the issue at a meeting with Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab in Kolkata.

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