Congress criticises Mamata's attacks on Bengal poll panel

Kolkata, July 8 : Disapproving of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's attacks on the State Election Commission, the Congress Monday said statutory bodies should not be degraded by the political leadership which should show respect for such institutions.

"The democratic institutions should not be degraded by anyone politically. Parliamentary democracy can function properly when we respect all statutory bodies," newly appointed Congress general secretary in-charge of the state C.P. Joshi told media persons here.

Joshi's comments came two days after Banerjee took strong exception to the panchayat elections being scheduled in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and accused the poll panel of taking decisions at its "whims and fancies" and vowed to take revenge against it "democratically".

Intensifying the attack, state transport minister Madan Mitra Sunday said "After the polls, the (State Election) Commission will have to wear bangles and hide behind a veil."

Joshi stressed that it was the "foremost duty of leaders to show respect to constitutional bodies".

"My only submission is every leader - Mamataji or others - should respect the constitution," he said after holding a meeting with state Congress office-bearers.

Joshi said his first priority was to strengthen the paryt in the state and alliances will be decided after the announcement of general elections.

"When elections are announced we will take a decision. There is a committee with A.K. Antony as chairman. It will decide," said Joshi to repeated questions on whether his party will form an alliance with the Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress.

He claimed that the Congress should get the credit for bringing political change in the state by seeing the ouster of the Left Front in the assembly polls two years back.

"We, with the collaboration of the Trinamool, dethroned the CPI-M-led Left Front, That was part one of our strategy. Our ally won an absolute majority with our support. Then they wanted us to go.

"So now we are rebuilding the party. That is part two of our strategy. We are now in a position to say that when the Lok Sabha polls take place we will do well," he said.

He sounded optimistic about the party's performances in the coming panchayat polls. "Once the results are announced, we will be there in every nook and corner of the state".

Avoiding a direct reply to Banerjee's claim that his party will have to come to her with a begging bowl after the next elections, Joshi said: "Let the 2014 elections be declared, let the results come. Then we will be able e to answer this question."

He dismissed Banerjee's demand for a financial package from the central government to help her government overcome the debt crisis.

"Our constitution has very clear cut rules. The Finance Commission has formula for deciding this. Various parties are in power in various states. Devolution of funds takes place as per the constitution."

--IANS (Posted on 09-07-2013)

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