State Election Commissioner responsible for corpses on the streets: West Bengal Governor

Less than 48 hours before voting begins, the Governor accuses the SEC of failing in his duty; suggests that he take action by organising raids, seizures, and preventive arrests, and shifting partisan officers

July 06, 2023 03:19 pm | Updated July 07, 2023 12:08 am IST - Kolkata

West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose addresses a press conference at Raj Bhavan in Kolkata on July 6, 2023.

West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose addresses a press conference at Raj Bhavan in Kolkata on July 6, 2023. | Photo Credit: Debasish Bhaduri

Claiming that the right to vote in the panchayat polls is in peril and that mobocracy is stifling democracy, West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose on Thursday accused the State Election Commissioner (SEC) Rajiva Sinha of having failed in his duty and disappointed the people of the State.

“I appointed you, you disappointed the people. My constitutional appointee, you have failed in your duty. You have failed the people. You are responsible for the corpses that fell on the streets. Do your duty: that is what people tell you,” the Governor said, addressing a press conference at Raj Bhavan.

The superintendence, direction and conduct of the panchayat polls lies with the SEC.

Scathing remarks

Blaming the SEC for the poll-related violence that has claimed 17 lives since the notification for the elections was issued on June 8, Dr. Bose said that Mr. Sinha “was knee deep in the sin against the people as well as sin against the Constitution and sin against judicial courts”. 

The Governor’s scathing remarks against the SEC came less than 48 hours before the voting, scheduled to be held on July 8. He also made suggestions for action, such as organising raids and seizures, preventive arrests of gang leaders, and the shifting of All India Service officers who are allegedly partisan. 

Dr. Bose called upon the SEC to follow Rajdharma and asked him to act, as there was still time. He said that the SEC should ensure that polling in Bhangar, Canning, Cooch Behar, Dinhata, Murshidabad, Malda Basanti, Medinipur does not lead to a repeat of violence and bloodshed. “If you fail in making the right choice, all the perfume of Arabia cannot sweeten your little hand, all the waters in the holy Ganges cannot wash away the blood in your hands,” the Governor said.

‘Visit ground zero’

Only a day ago, the Governor had sent a sealed envelope to the SEC who had failed to turn up at Raj Bhavan despite his summons. “You have no time to listen to me, when I tried to convey it to you. I am a humble citizen of India. I have to find a time for that,” the Governor said. Dr. Bose, who had visited various areas in the State affected by political violence both in south and north Bengal, urged the SEC to visit ground zero. “Know the field realities. Vox Populi is Vox Dei. The voice of the people is the voice of God,” the Governor said.

This is not the first time that the Governor has blamed the SEC for the violence in the run-up to the panchayat polls, though his attack was sharper this time. “All the forces of darkness are here... Mr. SEC looking at the murders happening in the field. Shakespeare would say, ‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here’,” the Governor said.

While there was no response from the SEC on the Governor’s remarks, Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee said that the Governor was acting on the instructions he is receiving from Delhi so that the BJP can reap political dividends. “A man of such intelligence and wisdom is needed more in Manipur than in West Bengal,” Mr. Banerjee said cryptically.

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