Bengal AG likens poll panel to ‘beautiful lady’ (Roundup)

Kolkata, June 4 (IANS) West Bengal advocate general Bimal Chatterjee Tuesday compared the State Election Commission (SEC) to a “beautiful lady throwing tantrums”, attracting widespread criticism and the Congress demanding his resignation.

Appearing before a Calcutta High bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalyo Bagchi, Chatterjee made the comments during the hearing of an application filed by the SEC seeking adequate security for the nomination process of the panchayat (rural body) polls scheduled to be held July 2, 6 and 9.

“The SEC is coming out now and then with new demands. It is behaving like a beautiful lady… It is behaving whimsically,” Chatterjee said after commission’s counsel Lakshmichand Biyani contended that the poll panel was yet to receive Rs.48 crore from the state government which it was entitled to get for the polls.

Taking strong exception to the remarks, Biyani threatened to walk out of the court room saying “such unparliamentary language was unacceptable”.

The chief justice had to intervene to pacify Biyani, following which the hearing proceeded.

Government pleader Ashok Banerjee later defended Chatterjee’s comment saying the SEC was coming out with new demands everyday.

“It was not a personal remark. The AG wanted to reflect the behaviour of the SEC, which has been throwing tantrums every now and then,” Banerjee told mediapersons outside the court.

With the SEC chief Mira Pande being a woman, Chatterjee’s comment has come in for severe criticism.

“I demand the resignation of the government official who has made such a comment. He has no right to remain on his post. I expect that the chief minister (Mamata Banerjee) being a woman would remove him for making such an insensitive comment against women,” said West Bengal Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya.

Former state women’s commission member Bharati Mutsuddi described the comments as disparaging. “Such a comment coming from the advocate general is highly deplorable and unacceptable,” she said.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat condemned the remarks and sought a public apology.

“It is shocking and highly condemnable. He should issue a public apology and withdraw the comments,” Karat told the media in New Delhi.

Chatterjee though, later clarified that his comments were not directed at the poll panel chief but the panel itself for its “whimsical ways”.

“The comments were not directed towards at SEC chief (Pande) rather they were against the commission. It is the considered view of the government, and not me that the poll panel has been whimsical,” Chatterjee later told the media.

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