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CM climbdown after ‘exploring all options’

- Senior leaders speak about damaging effects of confrontation with poll panel, lawyers consulted

Calcutta, April 8: Mamata’s Banerjee’s decision to accept with protest the Election Commission’s order of transferring officials came after hours of consultations with senior Trinamul leaders and bureaucrats, during which legal opinion was also taken.

Sources in Trinamul and Nabanna said tonight they were relieved as the chief minister’s outburst against the EC yesterday had left them clueless about ways to tackle the crisis.

Yesterday, Mamata had called the EC biased and attributed motives to its decision to transfer eight officers. “They are taking decisions to suit the needs of the Congress, BJP and the CPM. This is vendetta politics and I will not allow them to get away with it,” she had said at a rally in Hooghly yesterday.

Immediately after her public criticism of the poll panel, senior Trinamul leaders had begun discussions on how best to avoid a confrontation with the constitutional body as it could have jeopardised the poll process and hurt the party’s image.

Mukul Roy, who has been representing the party in meetings with the EC, rushed to Durgapur last night and spoke to Mamata, the sources said.

“Efforts were made at all levels to ensure that Mamatadi softened her stand and allowed the administration to carry out the EC’s directive,” a source said.

According to the sources, lawyers were consulted on constitutional provisions and if the state stood a chance in case of a legal battle. A source close to Mamata said the chief minister was in favour of exploring all options, including legal.

“The senior leaders tried to explain to Mamata that a confrontation with the EC at this stage could be disastrous. If the EC decided to defer or scrap the polls in districts where the officers whose transfer it ordered were posted, the state government would have been blamed,” a source said.

The Trinamul sources said the leaders reminded Mamata about the tussle between the state government and the Bengal poll panel before the panchayat elections last year. The matter had landed in the Supreme Court, which had ruled in favour of the state poll panel with regard to the use of central security forces.

Several Trinamul leaders The Telegraph spoke to said a confrontational attitude before the Lok Sabha elections could have backfired on the government and the party. After losing to the Left in the 2001 Assembly polls, Mamata had alleged that the EC had been “purchased”.

“In 2001, she had reacted to a situation. She had expected a change of guard but that did not happen. She is the chief minister now and I don’t know why she used such strong words against the EC yesterday,” a minister said.

A senior Trinamul leader asked: “At a time we are gearing up for the first four-cornered Lok Sabha poll battle in Bengal, when would we have campaigned had we spent our time combating the EC?”

Some leaders close to Mamata said her challenge to the commission yesterday and her acceptance of the panel’s order with protest tonight could be a strategy to “play the victim card”.

As senior officials in Nabanna were busy throughout the day trying to keep the communication channel with the poll panel open, Mamata continued to attack the EC, albeit in a softer tone. At rallies in Bankura and Purulia, she said she respected the commission but added that it was not listening to Trinamul’s complaints.

The Nabanna sources said chief secretary Sanjay Mitra spoke to the chief minister a number of times to “explain the situation that could arise if the confrontation continued”.

“By evening, it was clear that the poll panel would not budge from its stand and the Constitution had vested sweeping powers with the body. As nobody could come up with a solution, the chief minister had no option but to accept the directive. Being a relentless fighter, she still tried to make her point at the media conference (in Durgapur) this evening. She will write to the commission tomorrow, lodging her protest,” a close aide of Mamata said.

job reference, PREPARED BY MAMATA

Core competencies Mamata Banerjee spotted in five officials that the Election Commission probably missed while ordering their transfer. What the chief minister said at a media conference in Durgapur on Tuesday night

Bharati Ghosh
Superintendent of police, West Midnapore

Appraisal

  • Very efficient officer
  • Experience of working with the United Nations
  • Risked her life to bring peace in Jungle Mahal
  • Only female SP and she was removed by the EC

Remarks

  • This shows how the EC respects women

 

 

SMH Meerza
Superintendent of police, Burdwan

Appraisal

  • Very cultured person
  • Involved in social work throughout the day

Remarks

  • Can you imagine such a person was removed?

 

 

Sanjay Bansal
District magistrate, North 24-Parganas

Appraisal

  • The district performed the best in terms of development during his tenure.
  • The district performed the best in implementing the 100-day work scheme

Remarks

  • He was removed just because he did not arrest one Trinamul leader

 

 

Alok Rajoria
Superintendent of police, Birbhum

Appraisal

  • He is a very good boy. I made him SP

 

 

Rajesh Yadav
Superintendent of police, Malda

Appraisal

  • This was his first posting as SP

Remarks

  • See how they treated him