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EC on TMC charge that it acted at BJP behest: Undignified to respond

The EC was responding to the TMC's letter to the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer a day after Banerjee was injured in Nandigram.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: March 12, 2021 7:34:56 am
mamata banerjee, tmc, attack on Mamata Banerjee, Nandigram attack on mamas Banerjee, west Bengal assembly elections, bengal election campaign, indian expressInjured West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee arrives at SSKM hospital in Kolkata. (Express Photo by Partha Paul)

Reacting sharply to the TMC claim that the alleged attack Wednesday against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was connected to the removal of the state police chief, the Election Commission (EC) Thursday described the party’s letter as “full of insinuations and averments”.

Describing the Nandigram incident in which Banerjee sustained injuries as “unfortunate”, the EC, in its letter to TMC, said the matter deserved to be “inquired into with promptitude and dispatch”.

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However, the poll panel, resenting the allegation that it had removed the police chief at the BJP’s behest, wrote, “It looks undignified to even respond to the allegations of all this being done at the behest of a particular political party”.

The EC was responding to the TMC’s letter to the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer a day after Banerjee was injured in Nandigram.

In the letter, the TMC alleged that the “attack is a deep-rooted conspiracy to take the life” of the party chief. It also held the EC indirectly responsible for the incident, claiming that the state’s law and order is EC’s responsibility once the Model Code of Conduct comes into force.

The party is expected to raise the issue before the EC in New Delhi Friday, with a six-MP delegation flying down from Kolkata to buttress the point.

Dismissing the TMC claim, the Commission wrote it was “completely incorrect” to suggest that it had taken over the law and order machinery in the state in the name of conducting elections and appropriated the whole governance structure.

The allegations virtually amounted to undermining the very foundation and fabric of India’s Constitution, the election body wrote, underlining that the Commission “does not appropriate or take over the day to day governance of any state including West Bengal”.

The Commission also cleared its stand on removing the DGP and criticised TMC for linking it to the Nandigram incident.

“DGP was not removed summarily and without any application of mind. It was the outcome of the recommendation given by Special Observers, Ajay Nayak and Vivek Dube. In fact, yesterday also when the Commission became aware of the unfortunate incident from the electronic media, report was immediately sought from Chief Secretary, West Bengal and from both the Special Observers, at present in West Bengal, within 48 hours,” it said, adding that till the reports come, it is not possible to draw any conclusion.

“An FIR has already been lodged by the relevant authorities in West Bengal to investigate the matter at local level. Similarly, ADG (Law & Order) was also changed after considered application of mind by the Special Observers. When the elections have already been announced, it is not legally necessary or mandatory to consult the State Government because these are normally temporary measures for the period of elections. There is no point in further commenting on the repeated insinuations that all this is being done at the behest of any other party. Commission shall await the report of the CS as well as the Special Observers and share the contents with all stakeholders, including Government of West Bengal,” its letter stated.

The TMC, in its complaint in Kolkata, had said: “Within 24 hours of the removal of the erstwhile DGP, an attempt on Ms Mamata Banerjee’s life was made in Nandigram this evening. She was on the campaign trail and filed her nomination this afternoon. At the time of the assault, neither the SP of Police nor the local police was present to give her security cover, even though she is a Z plus protectee. Only her personal security officers were with her.”

The letter, signed by senior TMC leaders Partha Chatterjee, Derek O Brien and Chandrima Bhattacharya, said: “It appears that there is a nexus between the complaints by BJP against the erstwhile DGP, the ECI unilaterally removing the DGP, the SP and the District Police being absent at the time of the brazen attack on Ms Mamata Banerjee. The attack is a deep rooted conspiracy to take the life of our Chairperson. We call for an immediate investigation into the same.”

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