ruckus over the bhavinpur by-election: the ruckus over the bhavinpur by-election did not stop matter reached high court regarding the authority of the chief secretary

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ruckus over the bhavinpur by-election: the ruckus over the bhavinpur by-election did not stop matter reached high court regarding the authority of the chief secretary

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Calcutta High Court questioning the jurisdiction of the Chief Secretary of West Bengal. The Chief Secretary had requested the Election Commission to conduct by-elections in Bhawanipur Assembly Constituency of Kolkata. The objection has been raised in the petition. Bhavinpur is the traditional assembly seat of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Controversy arose over the announcement of the by-election in Bhawanipur after the Election Commission in its notification said that the by-election for South Kolkata constituency was being treated as a special case due to the request of the state government. The Election Commission, citing the statement of Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi, said, “He said that under Article 164(4) of the Constitution, a Minister who is not a member of the State Legislature for a period of six consecutive months, shall be deemed to have expired at the end of that period.” A constitutional crisis and void would arise if ministers remained in the top executive positions in the government and government until elections were held. He also told that keeping in view the administrative needs and public interest and to avoid emptiness in the state, a by-election can be held in Bhawanipur, Kolkata, from where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wants to contest.

‘No by-elections in 31 Vis and 3 parliamentary constituencies’
“Taking into account the inputs and views of the Chief Secretaries and the respective Chief Electoral Officers of the States, the Commission has decided not to conduct bye-elections to the other 31 Assembly Constituencies and 3 Parliamentary Constituencies and the Constitutional requirement of the State of West Bengal,” the notification said. On a special request, it has been decided to hold by-elections in Bhawanipur assembly constituency.

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‘Mamata used the chief secretary’
Petitioner Sion Bandyopadhyay in his PIL opposed this notification and questioned the jurisdiction of the Chief Secretary. The petitioner asked whether the bureaucratic head of the state has the right to request the Election Commission to hold elections in a particular constituency. Because the Chief Minister of the state intends to contest elections from there. It has also been alleged that Mamata Banerjee used Chief Secretary Dwivedi to hold by-elections on only one seat. The PIL has also questioned the separation of a particular constituency and holding elections there.

‘Why by-elections are being held in Bhawanipur itself’
The petitioner questioned that apart from Bhawanipur, there are other assembly constituencies like Gosaba, Khardah, Shantipur and Dinhata where seats are lying vacant, then why Bhawanipur was considered an exception. What kind of constitutional crisis will arise if by-elections are not held in this South Kolkata constituency.

BJP can also approach the court
On the other hand, Bengal BJP President Dilip Ghosh had earlier threatened to move the court over the announcement of bypolls. “What kind of constitutional crisis will arise if elections are not held in Bhawanipur? Is the chief secretary indicating that there could be a constitutional crisis if Mamata Banerjee is not the chief minister of the state? Being the Chief Secretary, it is not his responsibility to look after these things. The Election Commission is an autonomous body, which should not come under anyone’s influence.

Suvendu Adhikari will meet Amit Shah
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari is in Delhi where he is likely to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah. It is being speculated that the officials may discuss the issue of Bhawanipur by-election with the Home Minister.

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