CEC on Bengal Poll Violence: Expect parties to show additional responsibility to curb volatility

Speaking to Times Now exclusively, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Sunil Arora has said that he expects political parties in West Bengal to be responsible and help curb the culture of political violence in the state. Adding that he had noted earlier that if the energies of people in the state are properly channelised it could lead to great social movements and that a Renaissance-like in the past would be seen. He said in that case, “They will be thought leaders of India and the rest of world. Instead, if the same energy is frittered the outcome cannot be too good.” He added that expect that parties would show an additional responsibility to curb the volatility.”

On the preparation for the West Bengal polls from the EC’s side after his senior officers visited the state, the Chief Election Commissioner said “You can expect peaceful election and safe election. One of our officers has already spent 2 days in WB, he’s overall in charge of West Bengal and EVMs and he will be giving us a report. In certain matters, Bihar has become a virtual template in terms of what has happened. Thanks to CEO and the entire machinery there we had reached out to them and had detailed virtual meetings with their counterparts in West Bengal and what was done to make it a safe election. We are aware of the challenges and are neither ruffled nor daunted by the challenges and we hope to do as well as in elections in Bihar and before that.”

Times Now also asked the CEC how the crowds during the Bihar poll campaign will be avoided in Bengal. The CEC said that the Commission sought the views of political parties prior to the polls in Bihar and a similar effort would be made in West Bengal. Speaking about the practical difficulties in the implementation of this, he said “That there are certain things in rural situations that make things difficult for the District Magistrate or the SP. For example, when a helicopter comes there are issues. Suddenly people gather. They may not be followers of that particular leader or party but they just come there. So for any CEC to predict what will happen with mathematical accuracy is unrealistic. It is eventually for the local law and order machinery and police to hold the situation. No micromanagement from Delhi. Yes, we do suggest paradigms and we shall suggest them again”.

He also said that this issue would come during the routine interaction of the Election Commission with political parties its meetings with them. “When they mention their issues we also mention this invariably as one of our issues. The level of compliance is far more than a level of willful defiance. From the media point of view, even one act of wilful defiance gets highlighted.”