The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday transferred eight Returning Officers (RO) to the eight assembly seats of Kolkata for the final two phases of the election slated to be held on April 26 and 29, after reports emerged that the officials were allegedly in cahoots with the TMC leaders.
The ROs of Chowringhee, Entally, Beliaghata, Jorasanko, Shyampukur, Kashipur-Belgachia, Kolkata Port and Bhowanipore have been replaced, while the EC claimed it was a routine transfer. According to One India report, sources in the poll panel said complaints were received against the officers for allegedly favouring the ruling TMC and lending favours to them.
While the eight officers were designated for duties in the penultimate and final phase of the polling, EC took another decision on Wednesday where three electoral officers were transferred to non-election posts for the upcoming phase.
The commission wrote to the chief secretary of the state stating that district election officers (DEOs) of Dakshin Dinajpur Nikhil Nirmal, Purba Bardhaman Enaur Rahman and Paschim Bardhman Purnendu Kumar Majhi are being transferred with “immediate effect.”
According to media reports, the EC in its official communication mentioned that the three officials “shall not be given any election-related posting” and their joining report (at the new place of posting) should be intimated to it by Thursday 10 am. Some sources have claimed that these officers were also replaced because of their alleged connection to the ruling party of the state.
The EC officers making a bed with TMC leaders is not a new phenomenon. Reported previously by TFI, a night before the third phase of elections, four Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and four Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) were found at TMC leader Gautam Ghosh’s house in Uluberia North constituency.
Tapan Sarkar, an EC sector official was accused of delivering the machines to the MLAs house. However, after being caught red-handed by the villagers, the sector officer claimed that he reached the polling booth late in the night and by that time, the central forces had slept off. Not being allowed entry inside, the officer claimed to have gone to a relative’s house which conveniently happened to be Gautam Ghosh — the TMC MLA.
However, the EC did not buy any of the sector officer’s hogwash as he was immediately suspended. “Tapan Sarkar, sector officer of Sector 17 in AC 177 Uluberia Uttar at Howrah district, went with Reserve EVM and slept at a relative’s house. This is a gross violation of EC’s instructions for which he has been suspended and charges will be framed for major punishment,” the EC said.
Mamata Banerjee has sensed that a defeat is imminent and thus her party has allegedly started milking its contacts to full effect to rig the upcoming phases of the election. However, an alert EC, which so far has not allowed an inch to Mamata and called out her lies repeatedly is not going down gently and making sure that compromised officials are taken out of the picture altogether.