ECI: JMM defends Deoghar DC, lashes out at the poll panel

Ranchi: The ruling JMM on Tuesday threw its weight behind Deoghar deputy commissioner Manjunath Bhajantri by hitting back at the Election Commission of India (ECI) calling it as an ‘extended arm’ of BJP ruled government in the Centre. It also accused the poll panel of working beyond its jurisdiction by issuing orders even when the model code of conduct is not in force in the state.

It was reacting to ECI’s directives to state government on Monday to immediately remove Bhajantri from his post and also barred any further appointment of the officer in any poll related works without its permission. ECI’s action was in the wake of a complaint filed by Godda MP Nishikant Dubey against DC accusing him of filing FIRs against the lawmaker with malafide intention. In October Bhajantri ordered officials to file five FIRs against Dubey under various sections of poll code violation concerning Madhupur bypoll held in April this year. ECI too in its probe found Bhajantri’s actions as “malafide” directing state to act against him.

Addressing a press conference in the evening, JMM’s central general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharjee said, “We condemn and oppose ECI’s order. We appeal ECI not to repeat it in future.” He added that the way ECI is acting is making them doubt on its neutrality. “People of this country have great respect for ECI. We also respect it. But now we feel that ECI has turned into an Extended Centre of Intervention in addition to CBI, ED, IT and other central agencies.”  

He added that ECI’s role only comes into picture when elections are held and model code of conduct is in place. “But ECI’s order yesterday is infringement in jurisdiction of state government,” he said. 

Bhattacharjee questioned ECI’s objection to the timing of FIRs against Dubey. “ECI said that timing of FIR by Deoghar DC, about six months after the poll raises question and with “malafide” intention. Crime never dies. Moreover, admissibility of any FIR is to be decided by the Court, not ECI.”