Kolkata/Berhampore: Ignoring West Bengal BJP's opposition, the Election Commission (EC) on Saturday announced that Assembly by-polls at Bhowanipore, where chief minister Mamata Banerjee will contest to become an elected Trinamul Congress member of the House, will be held on September 30.
The EC's step came after state chief secretary H.K. Dwiwedi drew its attention to "a constitutional crisis" if the TMC supremo is not able to continue as the CM without winning elections after heading the government for six months.
The EC also scheduled the Assembly polls at Shamshergunj and Jangipur seats in Murshidabad of the state, where polls were earlier adjourned following two candidates' death due to Covid-19, on the same day.
The poll results of the three Assembly seats will be declared on October 3. After the announcement of the poll dates, Ms Banerjee cancelled her North Bengal tour which was supposed to start from Sunday.
According to the EC, Mr Dwiwedi, who informed it that the Covid-19 situation was fully under control, no impact of the flood situation on the poll-bound Assembly constituencies and the state being fully geared to hold the election, "also cited that under Article 164(4) of the Constitution of India, a minister who is not a member of the legislature of the state for a period of six consecutive months shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a minister and there will be a constitutional crisis and vacuum in the top executive posts in the government unless elections are held immediately."
It added, "He also informed that in view of administrative exigencies and public interest and to avoid vacuum in the state, bye-elections for Bhabanipur, Kolkata, from where Ms Mamata Banerjee, chief minister, intends to contest elections may be conducted… considering the constitutional exigency and special request from the state of West Bengal, it has decided to hold bye-elections in 159-Bhabanipur AC."
TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said, "The EC, to the best of its wisdom, decided to hold the Assembly by-polls at Bhowanipore and polls at two other seats. Our party supremo will win at Bhowanipore with a record margin. Other Assembly constituencies will also be taken up by the EC."
In Murshidabad, leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, who defeated Ms Banerjee at Nandigram but opposed early Assembly by-polls, claimed, "The announcement of dates shows the EC does not work on the BJP's instructions… But why has only a by-poll been declared apart from polls at Shamshergunj and Jangipur? What about the other vacant seats? The state chief secretary's argument of 'a constitutional crisis' proves that no other TMC MLA is fit to be the CM."