A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticising Bengal chief secretary Basudeb Banerjee’s reply to a show cause notice issued by the Election Commission to Mamata Banerjee, the poll panel rejected the reply and told the bureaucrat that the chief of the ruling party has to reply to the notice herself.
The notice has become a subject of political spat with Mamata Banerjee slamming the poll panel for the notice that she almost interpreted as an insult.
According to sources, R K Srivastava, the principal secretary of EC, telephoned Basudeb Banerjee on Monday and told him that the commission can’t accept his reply because the notice was issued to the individual and not the head of the government.
While the chief secretary did not take HT’s calls, Mamata Banerjee reacted promptly.
“There is no difference between the chief secretary replying to the notice or I doing it myself,” she said while addressing in an election rally in Memari in Burdwan district.
“People will definitely reply to those (EC) who are parroting the words of others. We won’t tolerate this torture,” she said.
On Sunday Modi sharply criticised the chief secretary’s reply to EC. “I learnt that the chief secretary replied to the show cause notice. This is the biggest violation of the EC rules. The notice was issued not to the chief minister but to the Trinamool Congress chief, and the party, or its lawyer, or Mamata Banerjee herself should have replied. But the chief secretary replied to it and this constitutes misusing the government machinery,” remarked Modi at a public meeting in Nadia.
He also remarked how late Indira Gandhi had to sit out for six years for misusing the government machinery.
The EC issued a show cause notice to Mamata Banerjee for her comments in a recent rally in Asansol where she said a new district will be carved out of Asansol.
In another rally in the area she had also announced that all illegal coal mines would be legalised after consultation with the coal ministry. The commission felt that the announcements constituted violation of the model code.
CPI-M, Congress and BJP have welcomed the EC’s rejection. CPI-M leader Samik Lahiri demanded that both Mamata and Basudeb Banerjee must reply to the commission clarifying why was he was so proactive to respond to the show-cause notice.
“We have already moved EC demanding it should seek clarifications from the chief secretary. Trinamool Congress chief is using government officers for elections. She must have to clarify to the EC,” said Rahul Sinha, former Bengal BJP president.
On the other hand, Trinamool supported the chief secretary’s move. In a statement issued by the party on Sunday soon after Modi’s speech in Krishnanagar the prty said, “The chief secretary replying to the show cause notice was in order because it was issued to the chief minister.
“The poll panel’s letter is a public document and the prime minister can have this online,” the statement said.