It was only a few hours back that Mamata had insisted on fighting till the end with the Election Commission over the transfer of seven top officials in the state after the Election Commission order the West Bengal state government to do so. But at 8.15 pm, she convened a press conference at Durgapur and announced she was accepting the mandate of the Election Commission. The officials would be transferred but they would be brought back to their existing postings after the elections were over.
However, she insisted on being made a victim of conspiracy hatched by the opposition parties. Even more ignominiously, she questioned the integrity of the commission itself, by speaking of a non-bailable warrant against the deputy election commissioner Vinod Zutsi. She asked how could Zutsi be put in charge of the state when the Supreme Court had issued warrants over a land row in Rajasthan.
She insisted the commission could be responsible for the running of free and fair election, but the law and order yet remained a responsibility of the state government. It would be unfair to bring in new officials during elections, and now, the election commission would have to be responsible for the law and order situation in Bengal. She argued that the commission has agreed that the officials in question are competent and their integrity is not in question. So the targeting of the officials in Bengal for her, was a political decision and not a fair one.
In the press conference, she was sure of winning in Bengal, and sought “political death” of the opposition parties.
But regarding the tussle with the commission, Banerjee must remember that Zutsi was the deputy commissioner when she came to power in 2011, and had transferred multiple officials in West Bengal including top officials in districts like Malda.
But the problem with Banerjee is not just her short memory, but her inability to move on from being a leader of the opposition to a chief minister of a state. Now when she speaks, she is not just a head of a party but of a state. If she wins anything close to 35 seats in Bengal, she might be one of the major powers to reckon with in the national political scene. Standing at such a juncture, her slandering of the commission is a hit at the constitution that she has taken too far.
The minimum she can do before the elections is to respect her position as the chief of the state. If she is confident of winning the 42 seats in Bengal, as she claimed today in the conference, a change of a few police officials must not deter her so much as to question the electoral process of the country itself.
She must be proud of herself that CPI (M), Congress and BJP have all come together just to be vindictive to her, that too, just a few days before the general elections, as she suggests the EC order as some grand conspiracy. Her going out to pick up names of the individuals in the commission seems too desperate for a chief minister who was happy enough to believe in the process just 3 years back. Mamata must get cautious: people will soon doubt if one who cannot respect the electoral process and the constitution herself, can uphold its provisions for the people at large.