Mamata Banerjee is livid that the Centre is planning to introduce a bill in the special session of Parliament next week to tweak the appointment process of the top officials of the Election Commission of India and has instructed her party to ensure “turbulence” in both Houses, said sources in the Trinamul Congress.
The chief minister, currently in Spain to urge investors to attend the Bengal Global Business Summit, found out about the bill on Thursday during a stroll in Madrid with her entourage.
“Is this an anarchist state now? This is binashkaley buddhinash (wisdom is slain when the end is nigh)…. The judiciary is being bulldozed. This will not be taken lying down,” she was quoted as saying, in response to the listing in a Parliamentary bulletin of The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023.
The Trinamul chief and other constituents of the anti-BJP Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) believe the bill seeks to compromise the commission by replacing the Chief Justice of India with a Union cabinet minister on a panel, which was to be set up on the order of the Supreme Court, to select the chief election commissioner and election commissioners.
Sources in Trinamul said Mamata — over several rounds of calls on Thursday and Friday to seniors in her Parliamentary party for the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha — ordered an “all-out attack” in the special session.
“She also instructed close coordination with other INDIA constituents, and speak also to non-BJP, non-INDIA seniors in both Houses,” said a Trinamul MP.
“We will simply not accept this shameless attempt to bulldoze the judiciary, to strike at the very core of India’s democracy and its pillars,” Mamata was quoted as saying. “Like this, they will try to bring one anti-people bill after another, like the One Nation, One Election, before the general election…. Ensure turbulence, not just resistance.”
Acknowledging her orders, Trinamul issued a statement on X (formerly, Twitter) on Friday.
“Vinash Kaale Viprit Buddhi! @BJP4India’s open defiance of the Supreme Court verdict on the selection of Election Commissioners is triggered by fear of their imminent defeat in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls,” it wrote.
“Hon’ble Chairperson @MamataOfficial has called for a staunch opposition to the draconian #CECBill,” added the party. “The unilateral move to bulldoze our democracy will not go unchecked!”
Jibes over Spain visit
The BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari on Friday issued a statement on X criticising the chief ministerial trip as a “vacation”, mocking various aspects of it.
Trinamul state general secretary Kunal Ghosh, part of Mamata’s entourage on the trip, retorted on X that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spent at least Rs 1,738 crore in taxpayers’ money on “globetrotting escapades”.