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CPM ask EC to seek clarification from Mamata on sops

New Delhi: The CPI(M) on Thursday asked the Election Commission to seek clarifications from Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee for announcing sops like free travel for girls doing vocational training when the poll code is in force as it has done in the case of Kerala`s LDF government.

"The EC should apply the same yardstick for the Minister as it has done in case of Kerala government. The LDF government was only implementing a decision taken much before the code came into effect to give rice at Rs two per kilo," senior party leader Sitaram Yechury said here.

"There appears to be a bias. This is not conducive to holding free and fair elections", he said.

Banerjee announced free travel to girls carrying out vocational training "not when the Budget was presented in Lok Sabha, but only two days ago in Rajya Sabha while replying to the budget debate when the election code is in force.

"The EC should question the Railway Minister like it has sought clarification from the Kerala government", Yechury said.

Referring to reports about "ongoing recruitment" by the Railway Ministry, he said, "If new recruitments are going on, then the EC needs to be vigilant. It is a violation of the election code as these are taking place ahead of the polls".

On Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi`s statement that media report exposing malpractices should be treated as formal complaints, Yechury said, "Such blanket statements that all media reports (on poll code violations) should be taken as complaints, is dangerous".

"When there is `paid news`, on which the EC itself is seriously concerned, any political party can use this to run biased news. If news reports are used in an unfiltered manner, then it will pose a grave danger to free and fair conduct of elections", he said.

Quraishi had said in Guwahati that the EC has issued a directive to officials in the five states that are scheduled for polls that any media report exposing malpractices and violations of the model code of conduct should be treated as formal complaints and prompt action taken.

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