On Tuesday, the Calcutta high court had ruled that Bhabanipur bypoll will be held as per schedule on September 30 and dismissed the PIL filed against the conduct of the by-poll. It further made ‘adverse comments’ against the state Chief Secretary’s letter urging by-elections to be held in West Bengal, in which he had cited emergency, “considering the constitutional exigency”.
The plea made by the Chief Secretary
A Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj questioned the request made by the Chief Secretary of the Government of West Bengal to conduct the by-polls of the Bhabanipur Assembly Constituency on an urgent basis by stressing that if the election process is not expedited, then ‘there would be vacuum in the top executive’ resulting in a ‘constitutional crisis’ in the state. Moreover, the Chief Secretary had also mentioned in the letter that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would be contesting the by-poll in Bhabanipur.
The ECI’s Response
The ECI in this regard had issued a notification on September 6 stipulating that the by-election would be conducted for the 159-Bhabanipur Assembly Constituency on September 30, dismissing the special request made by the West Bengal government’s Chief Secretary to hold the by-election on an earlier date. Expressing strong exception against the conduct of the Chief Secretary, the Bench further observed,
“The most offensive part is the conduct of the Chief Secretary, who projected himself to be more as a servant of the political party in power than a public servant, whereby he stated that there would be constitutional crisis in case election to Bhabanipur Constituency is not held from where respondent No. 5 wants to contest election. What constitutional crisis the Government could face with one person losing or winning election, was not explained. How the Chief Secretary knew that the respondent No. 5 was to contest election from Bhabanipur Assembly Constituency? He was not a party spokesman or a returning officer.”
The ECI also blamed the petitioner of having tried to ‘mischaracterise’ the meaning of the term “constitutional exigency”, emphasising that it does not mean an attempt to influence voters. It was further noted that earlier, the ECI had said that it was holding by-election in Bhabanipur only at the request of the Chief Secretary of the State of West Bengal.
“While the commission has decided not to hold by-elections in other 31 Assembly Constituencies and three Parliamentary constituencies (across India), considering the constitutional exigency and special request from state of West Bengal, it has decided to hold bye-election in 159-Bhabanipur AC,” The ECI said in a press release.
“As the process of election was initiated with the issuance of press note dated September 04, 2021 and the polling has to be held on September 30, 2021 we do not find it appropriate to interfere with the decision of the Commission to hold by-election to Bhabanipur Assembly Constituency at this stage”, the Court opined, as it declined to interfere with the decision of the ECI.
The by-poll election of Bhabanipur is to be held on September 30, and the results will be out on October 3. If Mamata loses, it will be a catastrophe for her as she will have to resign from the chief ministerial post. In Mamata’s reign of terror, only those who toe with the line of the Chief Minister are rewarded for their loyalty and unquestionable service, and with the approaching by-polls, Mamata is now desperately using her government machinery as her personal servants and this has also been literally claimed by the Calcutta High Court.