Will MC Chahal and others go?

Mumbai :- In continuation to my blog, the Election Commission of India has written 4 letters until now in regard to who all will be transferred and who will not be…The first letter dated 21.12.2023 was addressed to all the Chief Secretaries of all the states and even State Union Territories. The next letter dated 22.2.2024 was specific to CS (Chief Secretary) of Maharashtra only and then yesterday two letters came i.e. on 27.02.2024.. One was received in the afternoon and another one after a gap of 4 to 5 hours. In yesterday’s afternoon letter, it was clear that MC Chahal and AMC’s Bhide, Velarasu and rest all won’t be transferred as the ECI was very specific as to who and what posts will be transferred. In short, these people were saved till yesterday afternoon. But in a miracle, yes I will call it a miracle, within 4 to 5 hours of this letter ECI again shot another letter directing the CS of Maharashtra that they have rejected the request of Maharashtra government to not change Chahal, Bhide, Velarasu and others which is a headline in all the newspapers today that Chahal, Bhide and Velarasu will go.…This despite the fact that para 3 & para 5.2 of 21st Dec’23 guidelines remain unchanged till now and even if we assume that yesterday afternoon’s letter does not apply to MCs/AMCs in Maharashtra, where they are directly not connected with election work.

Now few points which I feel that needs to be addressed are as follows:

(1) Call it the outward or reference number of both the letters that came yesterday, it is the same…Very surprising!

(2) The letter received in the afternoon is issued by the Senior Principal Secretary ,whereas the letter issued in the evening is by the Secretary.

(3) The exemption request for MC/ AMC is rejected . Still there is no clause in any instructions under which they can transfer MCs/AMCs,since they are not directly connected with elections as mandated by Para 3 read with para 5.2 of 21st Dec ’23 guidelines of ECI addressed to all States/UTs.

Hence in continuation to the 3rd point, in order to transfer the Municipal Commissioner and Additional Municipal Commissioners who are not returning officers or who are not directly connected with elections in Maharashtra, the entire policy has to be changed that henceforth all MC’s and AMC’s will be changed during elections even if they are not connected with elections. Mere reference letter reply seems out of context especially relating only to Maharashtra.

And if my source tells me correctly, follow-up from a senior BJP politician based in Delhi who got a lot of Vinod doing this, plus another BJP politician from Mumbai and letters of Aaditya Thackeray have played a huge role in those 4 to 5 hours causing a lot of embarrassment to Maharashtra government. I don’t think officers of the status of ACS and PS rank will rattle even a bit where they are placed if they are changed but again, it is like playing with their emotions on one day they are there, and on the second they are going; and mind you it is reported in papers too..

In my views, ECI should have changed/modified their guidelines dated 21.12.2023 and be specific at the same time that all Municipal Commissioners need to be changed if they have completed their 3 years of term,even if they are not directly connected with elections. I don’t have any love who remains as MC but the problem is ‘influences’ and it sets a bad precedent for the future. By the way, in Maharashtra in the last 50 years none of the Municipal Commissioners have been changed during elections. Ajoy Mehta, is a fresh example.

Let’s see if our state takes this lying down. The battle is not entirely lost for Chahal and others, as the Chief Minister and the DCM’s may be in another mood!

– Vikrant Hemant Joshi

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