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Panchayat Elections of West Bengal Mira Vs Mamata Story of conflict of chair

Updated: August 10, 2013 1:52 pm

Mamata Banerjee or Mira Pandey? Who is more popular to the urban Bengal? It is the talk of the town. The reason behind is rural


The Rural local Government election builds a clear wall between the State Election Commission (SEC) and the Writers’ Building, the secretariat of West Bengal. Mira Pandey is being inspired by Mamata Banerjee. Being the chief of SEC Mira is a ‘Paribartanpanthi’ (who believes in change). She makes a difference with previous commissioners who are just the stooge of Left Government. Mira protests, protests against the Mamata’s Government decision and moves to the High Court. And not getting the satisfactory judgement from the court SEC moves to Apex court and get the desired judgement. In this respect Mira Pandey is ‘Paribartanpanthi’, and introduced legal fighting with the pioneer of Paribartan in Bengal. Loosing the legal battle in the Supreme Court Mamata Banerjee welcomed the judgement but that was an attempt to stay politically correct. But in the campaign of rural poll she does not avoid the Ramzan issue. Utterly condemning the state election commission chief minister Mamata Banerjee launched an open attack on the state election commission in election campaign. Blaming it squarely for holding the election during Ramzan she asks the voters to give the state election commission a “fitting reply by democratic means”. Mamata’s remarks against the SEC came during a rally in Dakshin Barasat, of south 24 parganas where her audience was predominantly Muslim, “the SEC didn’t bother to consult the government before fixing the dates. Why did it fix the polls during Ramzan?” she said. “There is a gameplan, dhandabaji (a trick) behind this to prevent Muslim voters from casting the vote during Ramzan. Just take a chance if it goes to the CPM’s advantage”, Mamata said. She was particularly angry with the SEC announcing the counting date on its own. She said the date clashed with the government passing departmental budgets in the assembly. Even the ignoring of honour the Chair Mamata continues her attack on SEC’s commissioner, in Jangalmahal, the dilapidated den of Maoist, Chief Minister claims she could change the Commissioner if her party has the required number of Lawmakers. Mamata had said in Lalgarh on July 8 that Pandey had been appointed by the Left Front government and that before leaving office, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had extended her tenure from three to six years. But official document tells us different. Two years ago, a task force was constituted under the ministry of Panchayati Raj (Order No. M-11011/51/2010-P&C (AR) Vol. II dated 18.3.2011) to suggest the measures to strengthen the SEC. Among its recommendations was that the state election commissioners should be given the status of a high court judge and “The tenure of the state election commissioner should be fixed for a term of five or six years or till the state election commissioner reaches the age or 65 years, whichever is earlier.” The remove of the SEC chief is not easy. The process is laid down in the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968. It states that a judge may be removed from the chair only through a motion in Parliament with a two-thirds support in both Houses. Trinamool has neither. Moreover, the impeachment of judges can be done on grounds of “proven misbehaviour” and “incapacity”. The stat e assembly has no power to impeach.

Unprecedented manner the ruling Trinamool Congress stayed away from an all- party meeting on the polls called by the SEC. In defence of their absence party leader Partha Chatterjee said the meeting was hurriedly called, leaving little room for discussion. “Our leaders are busy in the poll campaign,” he said in his fax message to Mira Pandey.

Mira Pandey is not an eyebrow bureaucrat but efficient and rigid. She used to avoid the lobbing of bureaucrats. Pandey, a 1974-batch IAS cadre never got any opportunity to hold a key position in her 30-year service during the Left Front Government. She does not get any elite appointment in her career. According to her colleagues she never succumbed to pressure of her political bosses. Maintaining herlow-profile Mira gives a lesson to Bengal government who may have miscalculated primarily.

Following the path of their Supremo, Suvendu Adhikari, the MP of Tamluk and active leader of Nandigram Movement attacked SEC. In an election Campaign in Datan of West Medinipur he asks Comrade Mira Pande, Which means Mira is a CPM Cadre. Not only was The Trinamool Congress leader’s address in West Midnapore’s Dantan peppered with comments like “Ants grow wing s before dying” and “I know which ailment requires what medicine. I used the correct medicine in Nandigram and then in Jangalmahal”, he echoed his party supremo had done earlier day: “Comrade Mira Pande remains on her c hair after the extension of her tenure from three to six years.” Though S uvendu claims ‘ants’ refers to
decline CPM.

Even Madan Mitra, the transport minister of Mamata’s cabinet, does not hesitate to attack the state election commission. In a mass gathering, addressing the people he says, “After July 30, there will be a leash on the election commission. It would not find a room to hide its face. Those who gave Mira Pandey advice through different news channels would have to be out of the country to give her advice.” Madan even utters in another poll campaign, “After the polls, the commission will have to wear bangles and hide behind a veil.” It is the reflection of merit what does posses the leader.

It is no doubt that Mira has the courage to exercise her power because she knows the premises of her chair. “She is very dedicated in her job and has never compromised. She knows what is constitutional and what is not and therefore did not hesitate to move the court against Mamata Banerjee over the panchayat poll issue,” said academician Sunando Sanyal. But this is also petty political comment. Mr. Sanyal, once trusted Mamata with high esteem, was not a colleague of Mira, how does he observe the dedication of SEC’s boss? This kind of certificate only can be issued by her Colleagues. The rural poll controversy is a not surprising for colleagues. “Anyone who knows Pandey knows well that she had never gone beyond her jurisdiction to please or satisfy any minister or superior officer. That is why Pandey was not given any key position by the previous government,” said a bureaucrat of Writers’ Building. “Mira had never tried to draw the attention of any senior minister or even top bureaucrats. She was not very eager for any prestigious post. But she is a very silent and sincere officer, She is not a bureaucrat to shirk her responsibilities,” said a senior officer of the state government.

Pandey made a difference with previous government. In 2008 Panchayat Election, Left Front government wanted a single-phase panchayat polls which Pandey opposed. Unlike Mamata Banerjee, Buddhadev Bhattachejee’s government agreed to Pandey’s suggestion for a three-phase poll.

Like Suvendu and Madan, Mukul Roy, Rajya sabha member, remarks against Mira. Roy alleged that Mira Pandey’s actions were encouraging the CPM, Maoist and Congress to create unrest in Bengal. The derogatory comments of the ruling party leaders are nothing but the dishonour of a constitutional body. And, I dare to say, it is the Chief Minister herself initiates to malign the SEC. If the pathfinder starts, the followers cross the decency.

The present controversy has recollected me the verbal battle between T N Seshan and Jyoti Basu. The so-called elite chief minister called Seshan, ‘megalomania’. When CEC Seshan tried to reform the electoral College and told without the photo ID card of the voters the General Election would not Commence, the CPM leader Jyoti Basu attacked him and told, ‘He is a mad dog.’

There are only three months. Kolkata will illuminate with its biggest festival, Durga Puja. Last two decade Durga puja is elevated to corporate character. Every Puja committee is trying to trump other. Many Pandas of the well known Puja committees have made discussion that Mira Pandey is already won a large popularity. The list of the inaugurators of the Sarbojanin Mira already reaches the top position. If she agrees they will invite Mira Pandey to inaugurate the Puja. Thepro-CPM pujakartas are gossiping that M Vs M battle would be a new idea of theme of the Puja.


By Prasanta Bhattacharyya from Kolkata

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