The West Bengal Election Watch (WBEW) recently organised the "Citizen's Convention for Better Governance", in order to observe that owing to existence of large scale intimidation, violence and corruption which have engulfed the election process almost at all levels, the electoral process in the state is loosing very fast its credibility and appeal to the common people.
With the the West Bengal Panchayat Election 2013 knocking at the door, WBEW noted that if the situation is not changed qualitatively, establishing of Peoples Democracy through Panchayat will remain a far cry.
According to WBEW Coordinator Biplab Halim, "It is an irony that being the largest democracy in the world, voters in this country has to always rely on police/para-military protection for peacefully casting their votes."
Halim said, "If such arrangements are made solely to combat political criminalization then one cannot help but wonder whether true Peoples Democracy could be established in this manner.
"This situation raises serious questions regarding genuine political will of the political parties, contesting Panchayat Election, whether they are really serious about decentralization of power to the lower strata of Panchayat i.e. Gram Sansad to facilitate the process of Peoples Democracy."
Moreover, participants of the Citizen's Convention, representing multi-stakeholders of civil society, had unanimously resolved to initiate an Election Watch process by the WBEW in the state.
Halim said, "In this backdrop, keeping in mind the forthcoming Panchayat Election in West Bengal, WBEW volunteers and researchers would scrutinize the affidavits of the candidates in the selected districts of the state who will be contesting in the upcoming Panchayat Election in West Bengal, to be held in 3 phases."
"We believe that the analysis of the affidavits would reveal striking facts and figures about the backgrounds of the candidates contesting Panchayat Election, nominated by the different political parties. We hope this would generate awareness and sensitize the voters."
In order to generate awareness WBEW would also organize a series of Citizen's Convention in different districts of West Bengal, he noted.
"We urge the voters to exercise their voting rights fearlessly and to look beyond Panchayat Election so that strong, meaningful and dynamic Gram Sansads, Gram Panchayats in all over West Bengal are constituted," he said.
WBEW is linked with the National Election Watch & Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the national level processes of civil society which have played a pivotal role in bringing the leading political parties in India under the purview of RTI Act.