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    Bengal polls: CPM accuses EC of partisanship

    Kolkata: The CPM on Thursday accused the Election Commission of acting in a partisan manner in West Bengal saying it had failed to give protection to party supporters who had returned home in Nandigram.

    "The Election Commission is acting in a partisan manner. It should function neutrally. We are not happy at all in the manner in which it is functioning," CPM state secretary Biman Bose told reporters.

    Despite appeals to the Commission to provide protection to those who returned home in Nandigram in East Midnapore district, it has failed to do so. "The Commission is not taking any step," Bose said.

    Referring to the proposal at the March 15 all-party meeting with Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi to allow loudspeakers for campaigning from April 8 in areas which did not have any ISC or CBSE examinees, Bose said the EC had not taken action on it.

    "The Commission was supposed to send the proposal to the state Pollution Control Board for its opinion, but has not done so," he said. On reports that PCPA leader Chhatradhar Mahato would contest the Assembly elections as an Independent, Bose said he had nothing to say in the matter.

    "It may be recalled that Chhatradhar has declared earlier that he had worked as an election agent for TMC candidates. But when he was arrested, the TMC did not deny association with him. Now, the answer has to be given by the TMC," he said.

    Denying Trinamool Congress' allegation that Mahato was contesting the polls with CPM support, Bose said, "This is a blatant lie. We have no relation with Chhatradhar. He has killed many of our party workers." Asked about the killing of TMC supporter Rabin Kazi by coal mafia and alleged CPM activist Dinabandhu Bauri, Bose said the incident was the result of a 'clash' by two groups of coal mafia.

    "How can the CPM be held responsible if a person dies in a clash between two groups of coal mafia," he said. Bose said the coming elections were different from the others in the 'amount' of lies being spread by the Opposition.

    "No other election has seen so much false propaganda. They are spreading lies A-Z. TMC has said it has never called any bandh. In its manifesto, the party did not care to apologise for the ransacking of the Assembly by its MLAs," he said. Party General Secretary Prakash Karat and Politburo members Brinda Karat and Sitaram Yechury would begin election campaign in the state from April 14, he said.