Trinamool accuses Bengal poll panel chief of 'sabotage'

Kolkata, July 9 (IANS) A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rued her inability to remove State Election Commissioner Mira Pande, a leader of her Trinamool Congress Tuesday accused the poll panel chief of trying to sabotage the upcoming panchayat polls.

Trinamool MP Suvendu Adhikari, addressing a party rally in West Midnapore district's Daton, likened Pande to an "ant about to die" and accused her of sabotaging the five- phase rural polls beginning July 11.

"An ant gets wings when it is about to die. Comrade Mira Pande is on the prowl to sabotage the elections. I know what malady is needed, which medicine ... We will not allow her to scuttle the elections," said Adhikari.

The Trinamool leader's remarks came in for sharp criticism from the Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist alike.

"The remarks are reflective of the absence of respect for democratic institutions. When the chief minister herself is attacking the SEC, what to expect from her leaders" said state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya.

"I think it's the other way round. Not Pande, but it iss Adhikari who is behaving like an ant which is whizzing around," said Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Mohammad Salim.

Relations between the Trinamool government and the SEC have nosedived over the past three months over a plethora of issues concerning the polls.

With the elections slated to be held during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the ruling party has been on an attacking mode against the SEC.

While speaking at a party rally in Lalgarh also in the district, Banerjee Monday said had her party got two-third majority in the assembly, she would have removed Pande from the post.

"Her (Pande's) term was extended from three to six years during the previous Left Front regime. Had we got two-thirds majority in the assembly, we would have definitely removed her," Banerjee had said.

Banerjee had earlier even vowed to take "revenge democratically" against the SEC for holding the polls during Ramadan.

State Transport Minister Madan Mitra July 7 had said the poll panel will have to "wear bangles and hide behind a veil after the elections".

He later though had denied making the comments which had attracted severe criticism from rival political parties.

Meanwhile, the SEC which had sought video CDs of Banerjee's and Mitra's speeches, said it was not yet planning to seek legal recourse.

"As of yet, we do not plans to seek legal recourse but we are studying the CDs," said SEC secretary Tapas Roy.

Roy also urged parties against using unparliamentary language against the SEC.

"Nobody should use unparliamentary language against the SEC. We are a constitutional body and cannot react like a political party," added Roy.

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