A day after Mamata Banerjee wrote to the Election Commission to protest the transfer of four senior police officers, the poll body on Sunday termed the West Bengal Chief Minister’s remarks as “unfortunate.”
In a letter directed to Banerjee, the commission wrote that the EC is fully within its rights under the RP Act to act against officers.
Days before the Lok Sabha elections, the poll body ordered the transfer of four officers, including the commissioners of Kolkata and Bidhannagar, and relieved them of all election-related duties. Criticising EC for its move, Mamata accused the poll body of acting “at the behest of the BJP”.
“A few days back, it was in the press statements of BJP leaders making comments that senior officers of the state in the police administration would soon be replaced by the EC… Just soon thereafter the order of the Commission on 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,” Banerjee had written.
The Election Commission, in its response, said, “It is unfortunate that an exercise carried out by the ECI only during the duration of Model Code of Conduct is being labelled as arbitrary, motivated at the behest of the ruling party at the centre. It would not be correct and dignified to respond to such averments to prove/burnish its credentials.”
The poll body also wrote that the decision was based on reports filed by Special Police Observer for West Bengal, Vivek Dubey.
Adding that the EC officials spent two days in Kolkata to assess the in-depth review of the preparedness and fairness of electoral process, the commission wrote, “The officers who have posted in place of the four officers are of similar seniority and being from West Bengal cadre they are expected to know about field situation of the state.”