Respect the EC

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has stepped back from the brink in her defiance of the Election Commission by agreeing to the transfer of some officials as ordered by the commission.
 
The defiance was growing into an unsavoury confrontation, with the chief minister refusing to implement the transfer orders and the commission warning of cancelling the elections in the constituencies where they were posted.
 
The EC had ordered the transfer of eight officials, including a district magistrate and some police officers, after it had received complaints that they were biased in favour of Trinamool Congress candidates.
 
It had also posted others in their positions. It is not for the first time that the commission has shifted officials during the campaign for these elections or in the past in the interest of free and fair elections.
 
Even the director-general of police in Punjab was transferred a few days ago on the basis of complaints about him.
 
The Election Commission is a constitutional  body vested with the power of superintendence, supervision and control of elections.

The administrative machinery of  the Central and state governments is under its control for the conduct of elections.
 
It has a reputation for neutrality and efficiency in its functioning and it is wrong to question its powers in the discharge of its duties.
 
Mamata even attributed motives to the commission and saw its actions as part of a political conspiracy against her.
 
She has in the past also had problems with the commission when she challenged the state election commission over the dates of panchayat elections and deployment of central forces for the polls.

It is unfortunate that she always finds or invents enemies to fight even in the most unlikely places and goes in for public confrontations.

 This may be a part of her political style. But it undermines the authority of institutions and even the democratic process when she questions the power of well-regarded bodies like the Election Commission.
 
The issue has been resolved now with the state government abiding by the commission’s directives on transfers and the government suggesting names of officials from whom the replacements can be selected.
 
This could have been done without the matter reaching the level of a public stand-off.
 
The state’s view that it should have been consulted on the transfers is wrong.

But the commission could have consulted the government on the replacements, as it has done in many cases in the past.
 

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