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TMC meeting will violate election code of conduct: GJM

Darjeeling : The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it has lodged a complaint with the district election officer against the Trinamool Congress saying it was violating the election code of conduct by holding a public meeting in Kurseong on Tuesday. TMC president and chief minister Mamata Banerjee will address the meeting that is being organised by the hill TMC unit at the Monteviot Ground in Kurseong. The venue is away from the main area of town, but it is surrounded by residences and a couple of schools. The election commission has allowed political parties the use of public address system and loudspeakers for campaigning from April 9 to 15 only. This is because the ICSE and ISC examinations are in progress in the hills. GJM Study Forum member Swaraj Thapa said they have lodged the complaint because the TMC meeting on Tuesday would violate election norms. “How can the election commission give permission to the TMC when campaigning has been allowed only from April 9, the day after the ISC examination gets over? The district administration had earlier announced that permission would be granted only if there weren’t any ICSE and ISC schools or residences near meeting venues.” He added, “We urge the election commission to look into the matter and clarify on what grounds has the Trinamool been granted permission to hold tomorrow’s meeting. 

Otherwise, we want the same rules to be applicable to other political parties too.” The complaint against the TMC has been filed by GJM Kurseong town president Yogendra Rai, who is also a GTA Sabhasad. “Tomorrow’s meeting of the TMC at Monteviot is in violation of the model code of conduct issued by the election commission. It must be remembered that ICSE and ISC schools are having their examinations presently,” he said. The two English medium schools adjacent to the Monteviot ground are Godwin School and Dawn Boarding School, and a public meeting will surely disturb the examinees. “Besides the two schools, there are several residences where students will be preparing for their board examinations,” Rai said. The ISC examination started from February 8 and will continue till April 8, while the ICSE examination started on February 29 and will end on March 31. There is no ICSE exam on Tuesday, but ISC students have their Mathematics paper tomorrow. 

The heads of the two schools however, said the examinees will be appearing for their exams from another centre as their institutions are yet to receive affiliation from the ICSE board. Meanwhile, senior hill TMC leaders have clarified that Tuesday’s meeting would be an indoor one and that sound boxes would be used instead of loudspeakers. “We will begin the programme from 2pm after the examination gets over. We believe doing so will not disturb the examinees,” said hill TMC general secretary NB Khawas. When pointed out that the meeting was being held in an open ground, he said, “The meeting will be held indoors as the proceedings will take place in a segregated area. Moreover, we will use sound boxes to ensure there is no disturbance in the vicinity. Darjeeling district magistrate Anurag Srivastava said the TMC had sought permission to hold an indoor meeting on Tuesday. “I do not know about the complaint lodged by the GJM. But what I know is that the TMC had requested for an indoor programme. As such, there are no restrictions unless loudspeakers and other heavy sound amplifiers are used,” he said and added, “Tomorrow’s meeting will be held inside a pandal, which will be a closed and covered area, and mikes will not be used.”

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