Cold war between WB govt and Governor and C V Ananda Bose over SEC appointment

Cold war between WB govt and Governor and C V Ananda Bose over SEC appointment

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Will the frosty relationship between the West Bengal govt and Governor C V Ananda Bose turn into a full-blown war?

The buzz is that the Governor has yet to clear a name proposed by the state government for the new state election commissioner until Friday evening even as the incumbent commissioner’s extended term ends on Monday.

The state government, according to sources, had sent a proposal to the Governor on May 18 to appoint former chief secretary Rajiv Sinha as the new election commissioner of the state.

The government wants the new poll panel chief to take over the charge on the very day the present commissioner Sourav Das vacates office, so that preparations for the panchayat polls are not affected.

As per the West Bengal Panchayat (Amendment) Act, 1992, a new SEC needed to be appointed within two months of the expiry of the incumbent’s original tenure. Das was already given a two-month extension after his tenure had ended on March 28.

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Showdown expected

A section of the state administration fears that the appointment issue may lead to a major confrontation between the state secretariat and Raj Bhawan if the Governor fails to clear Sinha’s name before Das goes into retirement.

“It will definitely not show the relationship between the state government and its constitutional head in a good light if the name of Sinha is not cleared before Das goes into retirement though it’s not mandatory to have an immediate replacement. But the post cannot be left vacant beyond a few days ahead of panchayat elections,” said a senior state bureaucrat.

He also questioned whether the Governor can disapprove a name proposed by the state government for the post of SEC.

The Governor withheld his consent seeking clarification from the government as to why it had recommended only one instead of a panel of names for the post, sources added.

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Chief Secretary Hari Krishna Dwivedi apparently briefed the Governor on Thursday about the state government’s position on recommending the name of Sinha for the coveted post.

“It’s not clear whether the meeting was fruitful as we are yet to get gubernatorial clearance on Sinha’s name. But we are hopeful that being a former bureaucrat himself, he will understand the technical problem entails with the delay,” said the bureaucrat.

The rural polls are likely to be held in the state in July-August. The government had given extension to Das, who had earlier served as panchayat secretary, because it was contemplating holding polls by April-May.

Now that it plans to hold the elections by July-August, it wants the new SEC to take charge immediately after Das demits office so that the new chief gets enough breathing space before plunging into the electioneering process.

Bose had so far avoided scaling up the confrontation with the government beyond a point. It’s to be seen whether this time, too, he softens his stand at the last moment to avoid the tussle turning into an open war.

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