West Bengal: State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused the rival BJP party of influencing the functioning of the Bengal Election Commission after the poll panel transferred five senior state government officials over the last few days, as per reports.
“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 supremo, however, exuded confidence that her party would emerge winner in the upcoming state assembly 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 EC ordered transfers of five officials in the state who were on poll duty, just two days ahead of the first phase of elections in the state that will be held on March 27.
The order by the EC 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”.
Earlier on March 20, the EC asked the ruling state government to restrain 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.
Targeting the EC at her rally on Thursday, Banerjee had said that though 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 had asked.
The TMC chief also accused the EC of displaying “step-motherly attitude” towards her government. She also wondered why “every instruction of BJP has to be obeyed” by the poll panel.
The 66-year-old leader further said that by allegedly 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.”
Banerjee also urged people to be “on guard against those being brought in from neighbouring Odisha to loot votes”. The state CM has been alleging that her rivals, mainly 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.