West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday remained adamant on her decision to overrule the Election Commission of India's order to transfer five superintendents of police, one district magistrate and two additional district magistrates on Monday.
State chief secretary Sanjay Mitra on Tuesday shot off a letter to the poll body requesting it to reconsider its order. Mitra made it clear he was writing the letter following the instructions of the chief minister.
He argued in the letter if the officers are transferred there would be administrative difficulties. He also sought clarifications as to why the state government was not taken into confidence before deciding on the transfers.
He also attached a list of IAS and IPS officers with the letter and requested the EC to select officers from that panel.
Sources told HT the EC will meet at 2:30pm in the capital to discuss the issue. Till Tuesday noon, none of the officers had received any transfer orders.
The Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal could be cancelled if EC's orders for transferring officials isn't followed, sources in the panel in Delhi told HT on Tuesday. They said that disciplinary action could be taken against the West Bengal's chief secretary.
Earlier in the day, the state government had sought clarification after the poll panel had threatened to cancel the polls. The poll body had given the West Bengal government time will 2:30pm to transfer the officials.
The EC's had warning come after Banerjee said she would not "remove a single officer".
The EC's transfer order came a day after the visit of the chief election commissioner to Bengal. There were allegations that the officials were acting in a biased manner and helping the ruling Trinamool Congress.
On Monday, Banerjee lashed out at the EC, describing it as an agent of all her rivals — the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Her outburst came after the poll body ordered the transfer of five superintendents of police, one district magistrate and two additional district magistrates earlier in the day.
The ECI has the authority to transfer or suspend administrative officials after the poll dates are announced.
Banerjee had also challenged the poll body, saying it can do anything it wanted.
"I don't care. Not a single transfer will take place as long as I am the chief minister. Either accept my resignation, or the transfer won't happen."
Banerjee's remark drew a sharp response from opposition parties.
Former state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said the Constitution of India gave the ECI the powers to suspend an official.
"Those who are opposing it (the transfer order) should think again so that they don't create a constitutional crisis."
Suryakanta Mishra, CPI(M) leader and the leader of Opposition in Bengal assembly, said the chief minister's ignorance about the constitution prompted her to challenge the ECI.