Mamata Banerjee seeks SC-like collegium to appoint election commissioners

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee demanded on Friday the setting up of a collegium on the lines of the Supreme Court to appoint election commissioners, asserting that the three nominated members of the poll panel should not be given the mandate to hold elections. The Trinamool Congress chief hit out at the Election Commission for what she alleged was its partisan approach during the Lok Sabha polls. In the Supreme Court, there is a collegium to decide (on the appointment of judges). In the Election Commission, too, there should be a collegium to decide on the appointment of elections commissioners, Banerjee said. Three nominated members cant have the mandate to conduct the polls. The TMC had hit out at the commission several times during the general election, accusing it of being under the influence of the Centre. The chief minister appealed to the Opposition to together demand the constitution of a fact-finding committee to unravel the alleged tampering of electronic voting machines (EVMs). There are numerous evidences of EVM programming and election malpractices. We think there should be a fact-finding committee to unravel the tampering of EVMs, hawala transactions, she said. Other Opposition parties should also demand it. I will speak to the Congress regarding this demand, Banerjee said after a party meeting here. Justifying her decision to not attend a Niti Aayog meeting, Banerjee said it was simply useless to attend the meet as she claimed that the agenda of the meeting was being set by the Centre without consulting the states. They only set the agenda without consulting us. And the agenda they set are completely unimportant in terms of state-related matters. We are also not allowed to speak, she said. Commenting on reports about the Bharatiya Janata Party planning to conduct a delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir, Banerjee wondered how the Centre could plan to conduct such an exercise without a consultation with all the stakeholders. Who has given the BJP the right to change the demography? How can they conduct a delimitation exercise without proper consultation with all the stakeholders, such as National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, and PDP leader Mehoboba Mufti? she asked. Banerjee said the Centre should consult with everyone. On Tuesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah was given a detailed presentation on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, where the BJP has been pushing for carrying out a delimitation exercise for getting more seats for Jammu region in the assembly. On Friday, Banerjee also held a meeting of the partys Hooghly district unit, where it suffered a setback as it lost the Hooghly Lok Sabha seat to the BJP and just managed to scrape through in Arambagh by a margin of 1,000 votes. In several assembly seats of the district, the BJP has taken a lead over TMC in the general election. The BJP had staged a stupendous performance in the state, bagging 18 out of the 42 seats, only four less than the TMC.