The Trinamool Congress on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission of India alleging bias in its decision to transfer West Bengal police officers ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
Five police officers in the Trinamool-ruled state have been transferred in the past week, including the state police commissioner Anuj Sharma.
Party leaders Derek O’Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray and Chandan Mitra met West Bengal’s chief election commissioner to present the nine-point document. In the memorandum, the party said that the transfers had been effected “without following proper procedure”.
“We have observed that the transfers were made soon after complaints were made and instructions issued by BJP leaders who publicly claimed that such action was taken by the ECI [Election Commission] at the initiative of their party,” the memorandum alleged, according to PTI.
At a press conference after the meeting, O’Brien said, “People are saying Nirvachan Commission [Election Commission] has become Nikamma [errant] Commission. Enough is enough. Transfers of good, honest senior police officers of Bengal are being decided by a traitor who now works out of the BJP.”
The comment was seemingly a reference to Mukul Roy, a former Trinamool MP who is now in the Bharatiya Janata Party, said PTI.
O’Brien alleged that the transfers had been initiated at the behest of the BJP because the police officers concerned had been trying to crack down on the BJP’s ill-gotten wealth. “A lot of officers in Kolkata had exposed crores being transferred by the BJP in vehicles for elections. That is why officers are being penalised,” he alleged.
The Election Commission is losing its credibility, he added.
On Tuesday, the Election Commission replaced the police chief in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district. Amit Kumar Singh has been replaced with Abhishek Gupta, a move that drew criticism from the Trinamool Congress-led state government.
On April 6, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to the Election Commission against its decision to transfer four police officials including Kolkata Commissioner Anuj Sharma. In a letter accessed by PTI, she accused the poll panel of unfairly following the BJP-led Centre’s orders.
Banerjee described the decision as unfortunate, “highly arbitrary, motivated and biased”, and demanded that the Election Commission reconsider the transfer order.
The Election Commission, in its response, said it was fully within its rights to transfer officials when the Model Code of Conduct is in place. It added that it will not respond to the allegation to prove its image.
The transfer of the officials was “based on the cumulative feedback from the DEC (deputy election commissioner) who oversees electoral process in West Bengal and Special Police Observer”, the poll body’s letter said.
Under the Representation of the People Act, police on election duty in a state are under the control of the Election Commission during the polling period. “Such officers shall, during that period, be subject to the control, superintendence and discipline of the Election Commission,” according to the Act.
Polling will be held in West Bengal in all seven phases of the General Elections from April 11 to May 19.