The Election Commission has transferred the returning officers of eight constituencies in Kolkata, PTI reported on Wednesday. These eight seats will go to the polls in the last two phases of the West Bengal Assembly elections on April 26 and 29.
New officials have been appointed in the Chowringhee, Entally, Bhowanipur, Beliaghata, Jorasanko, Shyampukur, Kashipur-Belgachia and Kolkata Port Assembly segments.
Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab described the transfer “as a routine move since they had held their posts for more than three years”. However, unidentified officials in the poll panel said there were complaints against the officers for allegedly favouring the ruling Trinamool Congress. “Returning officers play an important role in the election process, and the norm of transferring officers was followed in these cases,” said an official of the poll panel.
While the Kolkata Port Assembly constituency will vote on April 26, voting in remaining seven seats will be held on April 29.
Elections in West Bengal are being held in eight phases. The first phase was held on March 27, the second on April 1 and the third phase on April 6. Counting of votes will be held on May 2.
The Election Commission has ordered a flurry of transfers of senior government officials in West Bengal over the last few weeks. On March 31, the Election Commission ordered the transfer of three officials, including the returning officer of Ballygunge Assembly constituency in Kolkata. The two others transferred are Sub Divisional Police Officer of Haldia Barun Baidya and Bichitra Bikas Roy, the circle inspector of Mahishadal in East Medinipur district.
On March 26, the panel had transferred five officials in the state, just two days ahead of the first phase of elections on March 27. Before that on March 20, the commission asked the West Bengal government to refrain from selecting “politically affiliated” figures as heads of civic bodies on an appointment basis after the end of their elected term. The poll panel cited the Assembly elections while objecting to such appointments.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the transfers were being made at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party. “The way BJP is interfering in the functioning of EC, it appears to be a BJP commission,” Banerjee had said at a public meeting at Danton district of the state on March 26.
West Bengal is witnessing a high-stake battle between the TMC and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Chief Minister Banerjee has time and again hit out at the Election Commission for holding the elections in eight phases.