Ahead of the West Bengal elections, the Election Commission of India (ECI) issued an order temporarily restraining political appointees who are holding the office of Administrators in West Bengal's urban local bodies, despite the end of their elected term to participate in functions of the Board during the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct.
In its 2-page order, the EC said that the move was being taken in order to avoid a situation where 'critical functions' of the urban local bodies are actually discharged, thereby 'levelling the playing field during the operation of the Model Code of Conduct and ensuring impartiality during the election process.'
Issuing 4 sets of directions, the EC said, "A Committee headed by Chief Secretary, West Bengal, and Principal Secretary Urban Development, and Principal Secretary Personnel as members shall appoint the government officials, keeping in view ECI's instructions to discharge functions of the Administrators/Head of Board of Administrator, as the case may be, during the period of Model Code of Conduct."
ECI issues order to temporarily restrain political appointees, who are holding office of Administrators in West Bengal on appointment basis after end of their elected term, from participating in/exercising functions of Board during the period Model Code of Conduct is in force. pic.twitter.com/HvAomuBg1C— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2021
Earlier in the day, the BJP once again approached the ECI, this time against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's remarks against Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Accusing her of running a "smear campaign" against Shah, the party demanded legal action against her over her comment-- "Who is running the election commission, Amit Shah, are you running the election commission?"
BJP said, "The above-mentioned instances are false, fraudulent, derogatory allegations and are made without any basis in law or in fact. A smear campaign is being run to tarnish the image & reputation of Shri Amit Shah and other senior leaders of BJP, with the intent to spread misinformation and thereby influence the voters in a wrongful manner."
The West Bengal Assembly with 294 seats will go to the polls from March 27-April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.