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Civic Polls: Be impartial, independent, Governor tells state poll chief

Before writing to him, the Governor met the state election commissioner at Raj Bhavan on Tuesday evening and took stock of preparations for the upcoming municipal elections in the state.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
November 24, 2021 4:38:44 am
Sources in the Commission said during the meeting with the state poll panel chief, the governor argued in favour of holding all the elections on the same day.

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar wrote to State Election Commissioner Saurav Das on Tuesday reminding him that the state poll panel is an independent authority like the Election Commission of India and should function independently and impartially.

Before writing to him, the Governor met the state election commissioner at Raj Bhavan on Tuesday evening and took stock of preparations for the upcoming municipal elections in the state.

According to sources in the state poll panel, the governor, during the meeting, reminded Das of the need to play an impartial role during the civic elections.

The state poll panel has, for now, planned to hold the elections to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) on December 19 and organise the polls to the remaining civic bodies next date. Polls are due in 112 municipalities in the state.

A petition was recently filed in Calcutta High Court questioning the rationale behind holding the civic poll in Kolkata and Howrah separately. On Tuesday, the state poll panel filed an affidavit saying that since Kolkata and Howrah have recorded the maximum second dose vaccinations in the state, the elections are being held there first. The remaining polls will be scheduled later next year, it said.

Sources in the Commission said during the meeting with the state poll panel chief, the governor argued in favour of holding all the elections on the same day. The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also put forward the demand of holding the polls on a single day and not in phases.

Dhankhar later tweeted, “(The) SEC itself had mooted the idea of simultaneous elections to all the municipalities earlier. The overwhelming political inputs are for (the) same. There does not appear to be any rationale for any deviation thereof. Urged SEC to ensure primacy of constitution is not compromised.”

On his meeting with the SEC chief, the Governor tweeted, “During hour-long meeting with WB State Election Commissioner @MamataOfficial Shri Sourav Das, Governor Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar emphasised that SEC in its authority was at par with the ECI and it should be non-partisan, independent and effective and not extension of govt.”

“SEC @MamataOfficial was categorically indicated that its authority of exercising ‘superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to the Municipalities’ is in no manner qualified or diluted any state law,” Dhankhar further wrote.

“Cautioned Shri Saurav Das that SEC @MamataOfficial toeing line of State Government and be merely its executing agency, would be an outrage of Constitution as also unwholesome for democratic process. It will run down (the) essence and spirit of constitutional provisions in Part IXA,” he further wrote, adding, “Article 243ZA of Constitution invests SEC with ‘superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to the Municipalities’ is in no manner qualified or diluted any state law @MamataOfficial as such law has to be subject of Constitution.”

A leader of the ruling Trinamool Congress said, “The governor seems to be speaking in the same voice as the BJP leaders. This is unfortunate.”

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