The two-day old deadlock over CPI-M Rajya Sabha poll candidate Bikash Bhattacharya’s nomination is slated to be resolved on Monday when election authorities announce the result of the scrutiny regarding the validity of his papers. Bhattacharya, a former Kolkata Mayor, filed his nomination as a Left Front backed CPI-M candidate on Friday, the last date for submission of papers for the August 8 polls. However, a controversy emerged with the election authorities claiming that an affidavit that was part of the required document, was received two minutes past the 3 p.m. deadline. The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), on the other hand, claimed the particular affidavit was not part of the set of documents originally sought by the election authorities along with the nomination forms. “When we went to file the nomination papers, we were told to get the additional affidavit,” said a CPI-M leader.
Bhattacharya said the additional affidavit was submitted to the returning officer at 2.58 p.m., and not after the 3 p.m. deadline.”We submitted the document within the scheduled time. Moreover, this affidavit pertains to those who were at some point of time government servants or stayed in a government residence. Neither of these apply to me,” said the noted lawyer and former Tripura Advocate General.
On Friday, there were arguments and counter arguments between West Bengal Assembly secretary Jayanta Koley – the returning officer for the polls – and the CPI-M leaders about the acceptability of the nomination. However, no decision was taken and scrutiny was taken up on Saturday. The issue again generated much heat and finally Kolay said the scrutiny would be on hold till 9 a.m. on Monday.
The ruling Trinamool Congress legislators also raised a din in the secretary’s chamber on Saturday demanding Bhattacharya’s nomination be cancelled. Trinamool MLA Tapas Roy submitted a letter to the returning officer with same demand. Bhattacharya hit back at the state’s ruling party. “It seems my candidature has rattled the Trinamool. They want to stop me by resorting to undemocratic acts. That’s the reason they are trying to pressurise the election authorities,” he said. The CPI-M has already sought the Chief Election Commissioner’s intervention on the issue. “We will pursue the matter till the last. If need be, we will even knock on the doors of the judiciary,” said CPI-M State Cecretary Surjya Kanta Mishra.
The verdict on the issue will determine whether elections are at all necessary to choose the Rajya Sabha representatives from the state in this round. With six seats up for grabs, there are six aspirants in fray apart from Bhattacharya. If Bhattacharya’s candidature is rejected, the five Trinamool nominees and one from the Congress will be declared elected uncontested.