West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of meddling with the functioning of the Election Commission after the poll panel ordered a flurry of transfers of senior state government officials over the last few days, PTI reported.
“The way BJP is interfering in the functioning of EC, it appears to be a BJP commission,” Banerjee said at a public meeting at Danton. “BJP has lost the match and hence has resorted to the game of changing officers.”
The Trinamool Congress chief, however, exuded confidence that her party would emerge triumphant in the elections. “I am telling you [EC], transfer all. That will not prevent our victory,” she said. “Because people are with us. Officers don’t vote, people vote.”
Banerjee’s accusations came hours after the Election Commission transferred five officials in the state who were on poll duty, just two days ahead of the first phase of elections on March 27, reported The Indian Express.
An order by the poll panel stated that the five officers – Additional Director General West Zone Sanjay Singh, District Education Office Ayesha Rani, Diamond Harbour Superintendent of Police Avijit Banerjee, Cooch Behar Superintendent of Police K Kannan and South Kolkata District Commissioner of Police Sudhir Neelakantam – shall “not be given any election-related posts till the completion of polls”.
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Before this on March 20, the EC asked the West Bengal government to restrain from selecting “politically affiliated” figures as heads of civic bodies on an appointment basis after the end of their elected term, according to the Hindustan Times. The poll panel cited the Assembly elections while objecting to such appointments.
At her rally on Thursday, Banerjee said that while she had “great respect for EC,” she wanted to ask the poll panel why all “police forces are under the control” of Centre during Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. “Why [are the forces] not under the EC?” she said.
The chief minister accused the Election Commission of displaying “step-motherly attitude” toward her government. She also wondered why “every instruction of BJP has to be obeyed” by the panel.
Banerjee said that by allegeding favouring the saffron party, the EC was “not doing the right thing”. “We are a regional party,” she added. “There are many other regional parties. If you think the regional parties like us will be finished in this fashion, you are mistaken...You can send 10 letters to me. I am not bothered.”
Further, Banerjee asked people to be “on guard against those being brought in from neighbouring Odisha to loot votes”. The chief minister has been alleging that her rivals, primarily the BJP, had been bringing in outsiders to manipulate the elections. “We have specific information about people being brought from Odisha to influence voting in favour of a party which offers cash to cast votes,” she claimed.