Bengal poll panel chief resigns, opposition slams Trinamool


Kolkata: Putting into uncertainty the fate of the recently-held polls to four local bodies, West Bengal State Election Commissioner SR Upadhyay on Tuesday tendered his resignation.

Upadhyay, who has been facing severe criticism from opposition parties over the violence-marred polls to the municipal corporations of Bidhannagar, Asansol and parts of Howrah held on Saturday, tendered his resignation to Governor KN Tripathi.

Confirming the move, Tripathi said he has forwarded the resignation for the views of the Mamata Banerjee government.

“The state election commissioner came to me and handed over his resignation. I received his resignation and he pressed for it. I have sent the resignation letter for the comments of the government. I am yet to receive the views of the government,” Tripathi told media persons.

On whether he asked Upadhyay to continue, the governor said “No”.

The move comes a day after Upadhyay announced that the vote count for the three civic bodies, that was on Sunday put on hold following mounting protests over allegations of violence and rampant malpractices, will be held on October 9.

The SEC on Sunday indefinitely postponed the vote count scheduled for Wednesday to look into the allegations of malpractices.

The SEC’s decision on Monday announcing the new date of counting came barely hours after the ruling Trinamool Congress staged a demonstration at the panel’s office demanding the counting be held as scheduled on Wednesday and threatened to intensify the stir if its demand was not met.

Led by party secretary general Partha Chatterjee, a host of Trinamool leaders staged a demonstration at the SEC office for hours.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties hit out at the Trinamool over Upadhyay’s resignation.

“What can be more embarrassing for a state government than the resignation of an election commissioner unable to bear the humiliation and threat he was subjected to by the Trinamool,” said state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

“Being a minister, how can Partha Chatterjee participate in a demonstration against a statutory body? And not only that, he even publicly threatened the election commissioner which is a constitutional post,” added Chowdhury.

The state BJP, which has all through been questioning Upadhyay’s efficiency as the poll panel chief, hailed him for resigning.

“The way Trinamool demonstrated and threatened him is utterly shameful and embarrassing. Unable to bear the humiliation meted out, he has resigned. I congratulate Upadhyay for not bowing before the pressure tactics of the Trinamool,” said state BJP president Rahul Sinha.

West Bengal transport secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay has been named interim state election commissioner and is slated to take over on Wednesday, according to sources.