M Reyaz BeyondHeadlines
Kolkata: The Election Commission’s (EC) plan for a campaign by an “apolitical icon” to persuade voters to come out is in a fix. Mamataa Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress (TMC), on Wednesday, challenged the EC decision to use the iconic status of Dada for the “Please vote” campaign.
The former cricket captain was invited by the EC to feature in “Please vote” campaign to get the people of West Bengal come out to vote.
TMC has alleged that Ganguly is a “known CPM sympathiser” and has filed a written complaint to the EC along with a CD. The disc is believed to have footage of the ruling CPM’s rally in northern town of Silliguri on Monday. Party leader and minster in the Budhadeb Bhattachajee cabinet, Ashok Bhattacharya allegedly said in the rally that he would request Dada to campaign for the Left Front, which is facing the most difficult poll battle since it came to power 34 years ago.
It also, reportedly has footages of several events where Ganguly shared the dais with Left leaders or state ministers.
Media reported a TMC leader saying, “His campaign for the commission will confuse voters. We can’t have a CPM-backer appearing on television, radio, print and the outdoor media, on taxpayers’ money, asking people to vote.”
TMC has hence urged the EC to take the Royal Bengal Tiger off the campaign.
Ashok Bhattacharya has, however, termed the TMC charges as “baseless, unethical and distasteful”. Calling Dada “friends for years” Bhattachrya told media that he “will never stoop to the level of asking a friend like him to campaign.”
State chief electoral officer Sunil Kumar Gupta on Thursday forwarded the TMc complaint to EC headquarters in New Delhi. He later said, “We did not find any evidence of Shri Ganguly’s participation in any political campaign…. We have sent the complaint and all the evidence, along with our views, to the commission for a final decision.”
Ganguly is reportedly concerned for his “good offices being dragged into a controversy.”
EC is, however, likely to put its “seal of approval on Sourav’s apolitical credentials” and keep the “Please vote” campaign in the original form.
The Telegraph reported a senior officer from Delhi saying, “We had approved the decision to pick Sourav after careful consideration and found nothing to suggest that he is close to any party. He had also assured us that he would not campaign for any party.”
Ganguly and Tabla maestro Bickram Ghosh had “voluntarily participated” in the campaign for which Gupta express his gratitude: “We are thankful to them for their contribution to the national cause.”
There has been no reaction from Didi herself yet.