10:25 am - Friday March 1, 2024

Polls in West Bengal could be cancelled if EC orders on transferring officials not followed

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The EC’s warning came after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said she would not “remove a single officer”.

On Monday, Banerjee lashed out at the Election Commission of India (ECI), describing it as an agent of all her rivals — the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Her outburst came after the poll body ordered the transfer of five superintendents of police, one district magistrate and two additional district magistrates earlier in the day.

The ECI has the authority to transfer or suspend administrative officials after the poll dates are announced.

But Banerjee said, “I am not going to transfer any of the officials. ECI is acting as an agent of Congress, BJP and CPI(M). It is a conspiracy of the ECI, the Centre, Congress and the BJP.”

She also challenged the poll body, saying it can do anything it wanted. “I don’t care. Not a single transfer will take place as long as I am the chief minister. Either accept my resignation, or the transfer won’t happen.”

The ECI’s transfer order came a day after the visit of the chief election commissioner to Bengal. There were allegations that the officials were acting in a biased manner and helping the ruling Trinamool Congress.

Banerjee’s remark drew a sharp response from the opposition parties.

Former state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said the Constitution of India gave the ECI the powers to suspend an official.

“Those who are opposing it (the transfer order) should think again so that they don’t create a constitutional crisis.”

Suryakanta Mishra, CPI(M) leader and the leader of Opposition in Bengal assembly, said the chief minister’s ignorance about the constitution prompted her to challenge the ECI.

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