The Bhabanipur bypoll, where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is Trinamool candidate, won't be cancelled, the Calcutta High Court ruled today, dismissing a plea against the bypoll. The court added that the bypoll will be held as planned on Thursday.
However, the West Bengal chief secretary came in for scathing comments in the order passed by the High Court today for using the term "constitutional crisis" in his letter to the Election Commission, asking it to schedule the Bhabanipur poll by a certain date.
"We record our strong reservation about the conduct of the Chief Secretary in writing a letter to the Election Commission stating that there would be 'constitutional crisis' in case by-election to the Bhabanipur Constituency is not held. He is a public servant, who is to discharge his duties in terms of provisions of law, whosoever may be in power. He is not to ensure that any particular person should come in power and in the absence there would be 'constitutional crisis'," the order said.
"Merely because one person is not elected as of now will not create any constitutional crisis as any other elected member of the Assembly can be sworn in as leader of the party and consequently, the Chief Minister," the court said.
A PIL had questioned the Election Commission's contention of a "constitutional exigency" for holding by-election to Bhabanipur assembly seat in Kolkata.
The Election Commission, on its part, had said the petitioner is attempting to mischaracterise the meaning of the term constitutional exigency, underscoring that the same does not mean an attempt to influence voters.
West Bengal government had on September 13 submitted before the court that the chief secretary had only written to the Commission requesting that the by-election be held.
Bypoll to Bhabanipur seat, earlier represented by Ms Banerjee in 2011 and 2016, was necessitated following the resignation of TMC MLA Sovandeb Chattopadhyay to help party supremo's election to the assembly.
Mamata Banerjee will be up against BJP's greenhorn Priyanka Tibrewal, a 41-year-old Calcutta High Court lawyer.
Ms Banerjee, who took charge as Chief Minister for the third time after the Trinamool Congress's mega victory in the state election, needs to win the Bhabanipur by-poll as an MLA to retain the top post. The results will be out on October 3.
According to the Constitution, a person has to get elected to the legislature within six months of taking oath as a minister.
Mamata Banerjee had lost to BJP's Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram in the March-April Assembly polls.
The Bhabanipur bypoll is seen as extremely critical for the BJP, which is heavily invested in defeating Mamata Banerjee after it failed to oust her in the state polls.