Environment of fear must end if fair polls are to be held: Dhankhar

Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Monday appealed to the state administration and the police to create an environment conducive to free and fair elections, and said “an atmosphere of fear for voters” must be overcome. The state will go to the polls in April or May. On the occasion of National Voters Day, Dhankhar on Monday tweeted, “Make all efforts #NationalVotersDay to make Voters Empowered, Vigilant, Safe and Informed @MamataOfficial.” The governor also expressed concern about the “absence of political neutrality” in the state. “Atmosphere of fear for voter — the supreme stakeholder — must be overcome. Absence of political neutrality @WBPolice @HomeBengal would be culpable leading to consequences,” he added. On Sunday, Dhankhar had asked the state police to be “politically neutral”, tweeting, “Our State can flourish only when democracy blossoms. For this free and fair elections @MamataOfficial administration @HomeBengal & police @WBPolice have to be ‘politically neutral’. Let’s pledge on this Republic Day to achieve in state free & fair elections shun of violence.” In a statement issued later in the day, Dhankhar said, “Without free and fair elections, democracy has no meaning. I appeal to our public servants that they must set the highest standards in their conduct and behaviour. They must maintain political neutrality, which is a requirement of law. Any deviation by them will not be appreciated.” He advised the state administration to avoid confrontations, and cooperate with the Centre. “Our Constitution is a supreme document and all of us have to work in accordance with it. I appeal to everyone in the government to avoid confrontation and ensure justice is done to all sections of society by cooperation between the Centre and the State,” he added. Dhankhar claimed farmers had suffered due to lack in coordination between the Centre and the state government and “each of the 70 lakh farmers has so far lost Rs 14,000”. He added, “I appeal to everyone concerned to see that this injustice to farmers is undone at the earliest.” These are not Dhankhar’s first comments questioning the neutrality of the police and the state administration. Last year, during his tour of North Bengal, he had said, “All bureaucrats, in administration and police, must never forget that they have to be politically neutral. They are public servants, they are not political servants.” In response to the governor’s latest comments, state minister Firhad Hakim said, “They [BJP] know that they will not win the election so creating fear phobia amongst the mind of the voters. Governor and BJP both trying to demotivate voters, and the police too. But such things do not work in Bengal. Here, we will have a peaceful vote and people will prove that they are with Mamata Banerjee.”

Environment of fear must end if fair polls are to be held: Dhankhar

Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Monday appealed to the state administration and the police to create an environment conducive to free and fair elections, and said “an atmosphere of fear for voters” must be overcome. The state will go to the polls in April or May.

On the occasion of National Voters Day, Dhankhar on Monday tweeted, “Make all efforts #NationalVotersDay to make Voters Empowered, Vigilant, Safe and Informed @MamataOfficial.”

The governor also expressed concern about the “absence of political neutrality” in the state.

“Atmosphere of fear for voter — the supreme stakeholder — must be overcome. Absence of political neutrality @WBPolice @HomeBengal would be culpable leading to consequences,” he added.

On Sunday, Dhankhar had asked the state police to be “politically neutral”, tweeting, “Our State can flourish only when democracy blossoms. For this free and fair elections @MamataOfficial administration @HomeBengal & police @WBPolice have to be ‘politically neutral’. Let’s pledge on this Republic Day to achieve in state free & fair elections shun of violence.”

In a statement issued later in the day, Dhankhar said, “Without free and fair elections, democracy has no meaning. I appeal to our public servants that they must set the highest standards in their conduct and behaviour. They must maintain political neutrality, which is a requirement of law. Any deviation by them will not be appreciated.” He advised the state administration to avoid confrontations, and cooperate with the Centre. “Our Constitution is a supreme document and all of us have to work in accordance with it. I appeal to everyone in the government to avoid confrontation and ensure justice is done to all sections of society by cooperation between the Centre and the State,” he added.

Dhankhar claimed farmers had suffered due to lack in coordination between the Centre and the state government and “each of the 70 lakh farmers has so far lost Rs 14,000”. He added, “I appeal to everyone concerned to see that this injustice to farmers is undone at the earliest.”

These are not Dhankhar’s first comments questioning the neutrality of the police and the state administration. Last year, during his tour of North Bengal, he had said, “All bureaucrats, in administration and police, must never forget that they have to be politically neutral. They are public servants, they are not political servants.”

In response to the governor’s latest comments, state minister Firhad Hakim said, “They [BJP] know that they will not win the election so creating fear phobia amongst the mind of the voters. Governor and BJP both trying to demotivate voters, and the police too. But such things do not work in Bengal. Here, we will have a peaceful vote and people will prove that they are with Mamata Banerjee.”