Fuming Mamata challenges poll panel, rules out any official's shift
In an outburst against the Election Commission after it transferred eight West Bengal officials, a fuming Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday refused to carry out the orders and said she was even prepared to go to jail.
Challenging the commission, Banerjee said: "Put me in jail. I will not remove a single officer as chief minister. You rule and remove."
She termed the commission's decision as a conspiracy hatched by the central government, the poll panel, the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India-Marxist as also a media group, and said it was aimed at facilitating rigging of the elections by the opposition parties.
"Five SPs have been changed and the names of five SPs have also been decided, without even informing the state government. I respect the EC. But you should not disrespect us. We are not like other political parties. You will only listen to the Congress, to ensure victory of the Congress? To ensure victory of the BJP?"
"Either you have to accept my resignation or I will not obey you. I respect you, but not by bowing down," she told an election meeting at Pandua of Hooghly district.
Banerjee said the poll panel was holding five-phased polls in Bengal with the entire process stretching for around two months and 15 days since the announcement of the election to help the opposition rig the polls. "Everything has been planned out carefully."
"I will fight it alone. I don't care for your conspiracy. Don't blame Mamata Banerjee for any trouble. Either Mamata Banerjee will look after law and order, or the election commission. You control law and order. I have no objection. I can't take responsibility."
"I have been elected by the people. I have not been elected at the mercy of the Congress, or you. I challenge the Election Commission, which I have never done in my life," she said.
She accused the poll panel of holding the polls in Burdwan and Murshidabad spread over two days to facilitate rigging by the BJP in Asansol and Congress in Baharampur. Banerjee alleged that the West Midnapore Superintendent of Police Bharati Ghosh was removed to allow Congress candidate Manas Bhunia to rig the polls at Ghatal.
"Who will capture the booths? The Election Commission or the observers?" she asked.
Continuing her vitriolic attack on the poll panel, Banerjee said "What were you doing for 34 years (when the left front was in power in the state)? Why were you silent? Is it because your brethren were in power? Were you deaf?
"If my Junglemahal flares up, remember Election Commission, you cannot overrule the people. You have your limitation."
The Election Commission during the day ordered transferred five superintendents of police (SPs), one district magistrate (DM), and two additional district magistrates (ADMs) from their posts.
The Commission's order, which came a day after the full bench of the poll panel held wide consultations with state officials and political parties, was sent to the state Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra during the day.
Five SPs - in charge of West Midnapore, Bardhman, Birbhum, Malda and North 24 Parganas districts - were involved in the reshuffle along with the district magistrate of North 24 Parganas.
The commission asked the state government to implement the orders by Tuesday and said the the shifted officials have to be kept away from Lok Sabha poll related duty.
(Posted on 07-04-2014)