Kolkata : In one of its strongest actions in recent times, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has summarily removed West Bengal Home Secretary Atri Bhattacharya and former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajive Kumar from their posts with immediate effect last night for their interference into the election related matters in the state.
Announcing the Election Commission’s decision for both the high ranking state government officials at a New Conference in New Delhi last night, Deputy Chief Election Commissioner Sudip Jain said that following the removal of the Home Secretary from his post, his work would now be looked after by State Chief Secretary Malay De till further order.
Showing a letter, Jain said that Bhattacharya was charged with writing a letter to state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ariz Aftab on 13 May directing him ways how to deploy Central Forces in the state, in gross violation of the EC norms.
Similarly former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajive Kumar who was earlier transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) as ADG by EC last month, was once again removed from his post with immediate effect.
He has now been attached with the Union Home ministry where he would report not later than 10 a.m. today (16 May). He has also been asked to leave his present post immediately on charge of continuously interfering with the election programmes in West Bengal.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as expected strongly reacted to the Election Commission’s stern orders and described it as ‘vindictive to corner the state government’.
She also questioned the authority of EC in taking such a strong action and alleged that it was done at the behest of BJP.
‘When on one hand all our complaints against BJP are being rejected by the Commission, on the other it has been taking strong action against our officers’, she thundered and promised to take action against EC officials after the elections results were out on 23 May.
However, all other opposition parties including the Congress and CPI-M have welcomed the EC’s decision and said it was absolutely necessary to ensure a free, fair and peaceful last phase of elections in nine constituencies in and around the city on 19 May, while raising some doubt about the EC’s decision to reduce the timing of electioneering by almost a day till 10 p.m. tonight in the state.