West Bengal government agrees to fall in line with EC order, but with riders

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The West Bengal government, Tuesday, wrote to the Election Commission urging it to reconsider its decision on transfer officials ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
“Contending that the removal of the officers would create law and order problems, Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra wrote to the EC urging it to reconsider its decision to transfer the officers,” a news agency quoted a source in the office of the chief electoral officer as saying.

The response was sent by the state chief secretary ahead of the noon deadline set by the poll panel for transfer of five SPs and one DM.

Later, a report suggested that the state government has said it was prepared to release the officials from their current posts, but refused to accept those named by the EC as their replacements.

Mamata Banerjee government’s move came amid indications that that the EC may be forced to take tough action. Reports claimed that the EC may go to the extent of cancelling elections in the districts where the TMC government is acting adamant against transfer orders issued by the poll panel.

Reports also claimed that the full bench of the Election Commission will meet over the issue and decide on appropriate action given the open defiance by the state government against the constitutional authority.

The Chief Election Commissioner had ordered transfer of five superintendents of police (SPs) – Malda, Birbhum, Burdwan, West Midnapore and Mushidabad – and one district magistrate (North 24-Parganas) after opposition parties complained against these officers, accusing them of being biased.

The Election Commission operated within its rights by ordering the transfers of the senior officials as the poll panel is constitutionally empowered to do so after the model code of conduct comes into force. And, it is the same constitution she swore to abide by when she took the oath of office as the Chief Minister.

However, Mamata would have none of it and has openly turned defiant against the EC. She declared, “I challenge the Election Commission to remove anybody while I am in charge.”

“How can the Election Commission transfer and name new officers without consulting the state government?” Banerjee asked.

“You will only listen to the Congress…to make the Congress win, BJP win. You will have to take my resignation. I will not remove anybody,” she said.