Chief election commissioner (CEC) SY Quraishi has taken note of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's appeal that the Election Commission (EC) should ask its officials in the state "to act within the parameters of their constitutional brief."
Badal had shot off a letter to the EC on Sunday, slamming the functioning of commission officials in Punjab.
On Monday, it emerged that the CEC did look into the matter and spoke to Punjab's chief electoral officer (CEO) Kusumjit Sidhu soon after receiving Badal's letter.
Initially, when Sidhu was asked about the CM raising a question mark over the functioning of officers of her staff, she refused to be drawn into the controversy. "I have no comments to offer," she said. However, she later admitted, "The CEC spoke to me and wanted to know why the chief minister is so upset."
The contentious issue for the Badal government is the transfer of officers, especially police officials, which the CM hinted at in his appeal.
"Unfortunately, the manner in which the EC officials are taking their decisions is causing confusion about the lines of administrative control in the state and this can have a negative impact on the morale and efficiency of the law-enforcing machinery. And that can be dangerous for peace and law and order," Badal had said.
The CEO responded by saying that the transferred police officers were replaced by IPS or PPS officers and that the EC had not put any IAS officer in place of an IPS officer.
The CEO maintained that she had not transferred the officers/officials on her own. In every transfer case, she said, the cadre-controlling authorities (of the state) sat with her during the meetings. "We expect utmost cooperation from the government. We have to ensure a level playing field."