EC acting at behest of BJP: Mamata
Kolkata: Claiming that the poll watchdog is acting at the behest of the BJP, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday wrote a strongly-worded letter to the Election Commission of India (EC) in connection with its latest order to transfer four IPS officers in Bengal. She termed the decision of the EC as "highly arbitrary, motivated and biased" and in the letter, she wrote: "We have every reason to believe that the decision of the Commission is at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre."
Banerjee expressed her doubts over the functioning of the EC and wrote: "Law and order is a state subject. Yet, no consultation has been made with the state government. The panel of seeking of names of officers has not been followed. Such a step could have given the state government an opportunity to send a panel of officers who have desired experience over the area that could have helped them to discharge their functions effectively."
She further alleged that transfer of officers without the state's consent is "undemocratic, biased and suffers from principles of natural justice".
Late on Friday night, the EC had removed Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma and Bidhannagar Police Commissioner Gyanwant Singh. Rajesh Kumar, Additional Director General of Police (ADG), Pollution Control Board, was made the new Kolkata Police Commissioner while Natarajan Ramesh Babu, ADG and IGP, Operations, was named the Bidhannagar top cop.
Avaru Ravindranath, Deputy Commissioner (Airport Division) of Bidhannagar was made the new Birbhum Superintendent of Police while Srihari Pandey, Deputy Commissioner of Kolkata Armed Police, 3rd Battalion, was made the Superintendent of Diamond Harbour police district. The choice of police officers assumes significance as Rajesh Kumar who was appointed as the new Kolkata Police Commissioner was the private secretary of BJP leader Mukul Roy during the latter's tenure as the Union Rail minister.
Questioning the EC's neutrality, Banerjee in her letter has pointed out that a few days back, BJP leaders had said that senior officers of the state in the police administration would soon be replaced. "Only yesterday (Friday), the Prime Minister and BJP candidate who are contesting in the upcoming Lok Sabha election made a statement during a TV show that law and order situation is bad in Bengal and that is why seven-phase election has been ordered. Soon after this, the order of the Commission on the removal of officers was received. This flow of events gives rise to strong doubts whether the Commission is functioning as per its Constitutional mandate of conducting free and fair elections or working in a manner to appease the ruling BJP at the Centre," her letter read.
The Chief Minister in her letter has described Anuj Sharma and Gyanwant Singh as "bright and experienced in these areas" and had reiterated that both of them have been playing key roles in the discharge of their duties and responsibilities after the announcement of the elections.
The Chief Minister in her letter has also urged the Commission to reconsider its decision along with inquiring under whose guidance the move was taken. "I would, therefore, urge the Commission to review its decision and would also request the Commission to cause an inquiry as to how and under whose guidance, the decision of transfers of the officers has been taken," she wrote.
Banerjee also expressed her displeasure over the Commission's decision during an election rally at Alipurduar.