Senior IAS officer and Principal Secretary of state Transport Department Alapan Bandyopadhyay was appointed the interim West Bengal State Election Commissioner (SEC) after S R Upadhyay submitted his resignation to Governor K N Tripathi at the Raj Bhavan on Tuesday even as counting of ballots is yet to be taken up.
“He (Upadhyay) came to me at about quarter to four and handed over his resignation. I received the resignation. He pressed for it and I have sent the resignation for the comment of the government. I am yet to receive the views of the government at this stage,” the Governor said.
Asked whether he had asked Upadhyay not to resign, Tripathi replied in the negative. To a question whether the resignation was unfortunate, the Governor said, “You can make your own comment. I should not give my comment on it. He (Upadhyay) has resigned and that is a fact.”
Soon after stepping down, S R Upadhyay told a news channel, “I have resigned because I felt I must resign. There must not be any pressure from any political party to influence any decision. It is not a correct way.”
The state government has forwarded the name of Principal Secretary of state Transport Department Alapan Bandyopadhyay, as interim SEC.
“The state government had forwarded the name of Alapan Bandyopadhyay as interim SEC. I have approved it,” Tripathi said. Ruling Trinamool Congress declined to comment on the resignation of Upadhyay and appointment of Bandopadhyay as interim SEC and hoped whosoever takes over as SEC would hold the counting of votes on October 9 as scheduled.
“We don’t have any reaction. He wanted to resign, he has resigned. It is his matter. We hope that whoever takes over will hold the counting of votes as scheduled,” a senior TMC leader said on condition of anonymity.
Opposition parties, though, have attacked TMC accusing it of pressurising the SEC to work according to diktats of the ruling party.
“It is under the pressure of the state government that the SEC has resigned. It is unprecedented. Such things have never happened before. We only said yesterday that he is helpless and should resign,” CPI(M) state secretary and Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra said.
State Congress leader Manas Bhuniya said the SEC should have resigned long back.
In a nutshell
- Upadhyay came under criticism from both ruling Trinamool Congress as well as Opposition parties in the wake of Saturday's civic polls to Bidhannagar and Asansol which were marred by violence and malpractices
- Under mounting pressure, SEC had at first postponed the date of counting on Sunday but on Monday decided to hold the exercise on October 9
- Earlier, BJP and Left parties had staged dharnas in the Commission’s office demanding fresh polls