The Ministry of Home Affairs has again summoned West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and Director General of Police Virendra to discuss the law and order situation in the state following an attack on Bharatiya Janata Party President JP Nadda’s convoy last week, ANI reported.

The Mamata Banerjee-led Bengal government suggested that the meeting take place virtually in view of the coronavirus crisis, NDTV reported. The Centre has agreed to it. The meeting is scheduled to take place in the evening.

The two top officers were summoned on December 11 also. The state government had, however, refused to send them.

The Centre and West Bengal government have become locked in an escalating row over the attack on Nadda’s convoy. On Thursday, the Centre asked the West Bengal government to immediately relieve three Indian Police Service officers for joining a central deputation. The officers were reportedly in charge of security details when the BJP president’s convoy was targeted, according to NDTV.

Banerjee said that the Centre’s order was a “colourable” exercise of power and “blatant misuse” of emergency provisions of the Indian Police Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954.

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“This act is nothing but a deliberate attempt to encroach upon State’s jurisdiction & demoralize the serving officers in WB [West Bengal],” she tweeted. “This move, particularly before the elections is against the basic tenets of the federal structure. It’s unconstitutional & completely unacceptable!”

The chief minister added that she would not allow this attempt by the Centre to control the state machinery by proxy. “West Bengal is not going to cow-down in front of expansionist and undemocratic forces,” she added.

Nadda’s convoy, which also included the cars of other BJP leaders, was on its way to Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district to participate in a party workers rally on December 10 when miscreants attacked it with stones and sticks. He was on a two-day visit to West Bengal for an outreach campaign ahead of next year’s Assembly elections.

The BJP has repeatedly blamed the Trinamool Congress for the attack. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had sought a report from the state government and ordered an inquiry into what he called “sponsored violence” of Bengal’s ruling party.

The saffron party also accused the police of inaction. Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said a mob of over 200 people, armed with sticks, gathered outside the BJP’s office in Kolkata. “Some of them climbed on the cars parked outside the office and raised slogans,” he said in a letter to Shah. Ghosh alleged that the police did not try to restrain them and let them come close to Nadda’s vehicle.

Banerjee, however, hit back at the BJP, saying that the saffron party workers were attacking each other during their rallies and then blaming them. “At times the home minister is here, then some chief minister is here, on other occasions, it is some Chaddha, Nadda, Fadda, Bhaddha,” she also said. “When people do not attend their rallies, they call their workers for doing Nautanki [drama] to get media coverage.”

Delhi CM criticises Centre’s order to Bengal to relieve IPS officers

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said that the Centre asking West Bengal to relieve the three officers to join central duties was “blatant interference” in the state’s administration.

“Encroaching on the rights of states by attempting to transfer police officers to Centre just before elections, is an assault on federalism and an attempt to destabilize,” he added.