West Bengal Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra Sunday clarified the state government’s stand on transfer of senior officials on EC’s directive to Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath.
Even as no details were available about the contents of the letter from either side, state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sunil Gupta said, “The EC directly wrote to the Chief Secretary seeking his clarification on some points of the notification regarding transfer of officers. We came to know Mitra also replied to the CEC directly. I am not aware of the content.”
When contacted, Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra declined to divulge the details of his letter to the CEC. Asked if he justified the transfer order in his reply to the CEC or added some other points in his clarification, Mitra said, “No comments.”
Sources at the secretariat said that Mitra in his reply had maintained that the officers concerned had been transferred according to the EC instructions and once the elections were over their postings are state prerogative.
On April 14, CPI-M had approached the EC complaining against the Chief Secretary as to how he could assure the officials transferred on the EC’s directions, that they would be reverted to their original posting after Lok Sabha polls. The party had raised questions as to how the Chief Secretary could give the assurance to the transferred officials before the end of the elections and had directly sent its complaint to the EC.
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The officials were transferred with immediate effect on April 9 by an order from the Home department and the Personnel and Administrative Reforms department which was signed by the Chief Secretary.
It had said the transfers would remain effective only till completion of the elections and they would be reverted to their previous postings thereafter. The incident had, however, attracted reactions from all political parties with CPM leader Rabin Deb saying that the chief secretary’s action was influenced by what Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said, challenging the authority of the ECI.
Congress leader Abdul Mannan too spoke on the same lines. “Only a whimsical chief minister like ours can do such a thing as challenging the authority of the EC, which is empowered to cancel the registration of political parties, which defy its orders,” he said.