Up against rigid EC, defiant Mamata softens, agrees to transfers (Intro Roundup)

Kolkata, April 8 (IANS) With the Election Commission toughening its stand, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday shed her defiance and agreed to transfer eight government officials as directed but said they would be brought back to their posts after polling.

Banerjee’s announcement came hours of the poll panel rejecting the state government’s plea to reconsider the directive to transfer eight officials, including five district police chiefs and a district magistrate.
Terming the order “political vendetta”, Banerjee said she was accepting the order as a constitutional obligation but asserted that the officers will be reinstated to their original areas after the polls.
“We are not accepting it as the EC’s order… rather accepting it as a constitutional obligation. For the time being we are accepting the removal of the officers but once the polls are over they will be reinstated to their original places,” Banerjee told media persons in Durgapur in Burdwan district.
The poll panel in the day remained adamant on its decision and mandated the Banerjee government to comply its order by Wednesday.
“The state government had sought clarification and reconsideration on the orders regarding the shuffling. After reconsidering we have iterated that the list that was issued April 7 has to be complied with by 10 a.m. Wednesday,” EC director Dhirendra Ojha told IANS over the phone.
Citing administrative concerns, Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra earlier in the day had written to the EC urging it reconsider its decision.
Taking a tough stand against the EC’s order, Banerjee Monday had refused to comply and continued her defiance the second day, keeping up with her tirade against the panel during her addresses in Bankura and Purulia districts.
“I cannot be knowingly made to do something which is unjust. If the transfer were genuine there was no problem but transferring officers to allow Congress to win is not acceptable,” she had said during one of her rallies Tuesday.
She later relented but said she will write to panel Wednesday expressing her disappointment and clarify that the state government’s opinion was not sought before issuing the order.
She also warned that in case of any untoward incident, the responsibility will be on the EC.
“Bengal is very sensitive, it is the gateway to North East and Nepal and here Maoists, KLO (Kamtapur Liberation Organisation), ISI are active. Even central agencies recently held a meeting for that. If something untoward happens then the responsibility solely will rest on the EC and those parties who are behind this,” she said.
Observing that the integrity of the transferred officers has not being questioned, Banerjee accused the poll panel of working at the behest of the Congress.
“If their integrity has not been questioned, then why are they being removed? Who are you working for? Who is behind this? It’s a political vendetta.
“If something untoward happens then the Congress, BJP and the CPI-M who are behind this will have to give answers,” she asserted.
The Trinamool Congress chief also expressed her anguish over the schedule of the polls in the state and accused the Congress of “using central agencies to needle her government”.
Meanwhile the opposition has lambasted Banerjee for her outburst against the poll panel and accused her of defying the constitution.
If state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rahul Sinha urged the EC to show cause Banerjee, his Congress counterpart Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury demanded the Trinamool supremo’s arrest for defying the constitution.
“I feel Mamata Banerjee should be immediately arrested and sent to jail for making fun of constitutional norms. She is reacting in this way because her plans to unleash terror have been foiled by the EC,” said Chowdhury.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose said: “This is unprecedented, nothing like this has been heard before. Is it her ego that is preventing her from complying with the law? If her defiance leads to a constitutional crisis in the state, she will be the only person to be blamed.”