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Poll panel officials curbing constitutional rights, says Brinda Karat

Special Correspondent

Bangalore: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has written to the Election Commission condemning alleged intervention in campaign by election officials.

It has objected to the action of officials in Karnataka preventing the party from holding public meetings in constituencies where they do not have a candidate, and stopping them from distributing pamphlets that urge the electorate not to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Speaking to presspersons here on Sunday, party Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat said such incidents had occurred in Mysore and Kodagu, and described them as an “encroachment on the democratic and constitutional rights of citizens and political parties.” She said that if such instructions had come from the EC, the party would ask for their revocation. “Both actions favour the BJP’s cause,” she said.

She also alleged that surrogate campaigns were being conducted under the pretence of religious functions such as the Satyanarayana pooja. It was a violation of the election code of conduct as these amounted to using religion as a tool of mobilisation. The party would bring such activities to the EC’s notice, Ms. Karat said.

“We do not want guided elections. We are not bound by arbitrary rules that are far beyond the jurisdiction of the Election Commission,” she said.

Ms. Karat gave the example of anganwadi and health workers being prevented from participating in the political process freely. These sections are not considered government workers when it comes to fixation of wages and facilities, but become government servants in order to deny them their political right to campaign and stand for elections, she said.

The defence of people’s rights, relief from the huge price increase and from the communal forces are the main issues of these elections, she said. The use of price rise as an election issue by the BJP in Karnataka was an example of “the politics of duplicity” practiced by them. The very policies which have led to the present inflationary trend – of futures trading in agricultural commodities, and the export of large stocks of foodgrains at Below Poverty Line prices – were introduced during the BJP rule, she recalled.

“The party is conspicuously silent on this.”

Support for Bangarappa

The CPI(M) would support the former Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party member, S. Bangarappa, in his contest against the BJP’s chief ministerial nominee, B.S. Yeddyurappa, from Shikaripura. S.Y. Gurushanth of the State unit of CPI(M) said this decision was taken to “defeat communal forces.”

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