Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has taken on the Election Commission after it ordered the transfer of five SPs and a District Magistrate following complaints by the Opposition parties. Mamata Banerjee has, however, refused to transfer the officials.
Mamata has, in fact, dared the EC to remove the officials while she is in charge. A defiant Mamata has said she is even prepared to be arrested and go to jail.
Addressing a rally in the Burdwan district, Mamata said, "I respect the Election Commission. But I will not bow down. I ask, will you only listen to what the Congress will say in order to facilitate victory of Congress, BJP? What will they do to me for saying this? I will be arrested and go to jail at most."
The EC ordered the transfer of the officials based on complaints filed by the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India - Marxist, who have alleged that the officials were acting in a partisan manner and failed to address their grievances over violation of model code in the state ahead of polling.
"As regards the posting of the existing officers who are to be shifted, the state government may post them on non-election related and non-field posts under intimation to the commission," said Sunil Gupta, Chief Electoral Officer, West Bengal.
"CM Mamata Banerjee is challenging the EC, this shows her authoritarian nature. She should re-consider her statement," said Surjya Kanta Mishra of the CPIM.
"SPs and DMs were transferred during polls during the Left Front rule too. This is nothing new. At that time TMC welcomed such transfers. But now that TMC is in power, Mamata Banerjee is opposing it. This is undemocratic and authoritarian. We condemn it," CPI(M) candidate from Jadavpur Sujan Chakraborty said.
"The EC was convinced that there can't be free and fair polls with this administrative structure. So they decided to transfer some of the officers. This is not a political decision but a decision to ensure free and fair poll by the EC," state Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya said.
(With additional information from PTI)