The Election Commission (EC) came under opposition fire on Saturday with the Trinamool Congress alleging that its decision to transfer four senior Bengal police officers was “highly arbitrary” and the Congress questioning its move to let off Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath lightly for his “Modiji ki Sena” remark.
While West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee claimed the transfers were ordered at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress alleged that the commission had written a “love letter” to Adityanath for his “insult” to the Indian Army.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted: “Has the MCC now become ‘Modi Code of Conduct’. Adityanath insults the Indian Army — EC writes a love letter to him.”
Banerjee wrote a letter to the EC, claiming the flow of events raised “strong doubts” over its functioning and ability to conduct free and fair polls in the state. “The decision of the Commission is highly arbitrary, motivated and biased. We have every reason to believe that the decision of the Commission is at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre, i.e. the BJP,” she said.
On Friday, the commission had ordered immediate removal of Kolkata top cop Anuj Sharma; Bidhan Nagar police commissioner Gyanwant Singh; Birbhum district police superintendent Shyam Singh and Diamond Harbour police district superintendent P S Selvamurugan.
Earlier, the BJP had submitted to the commission a list of 51 administrative and police officers on poll duty in 26 Lok Sabha constituencies, accusing them of “acting as Trinamool Congress cadres”. Bengal has 42 parliamentary constituencies and votes in all seven phases.
Anuj Sharma and Gyanwant Singh were among a few police officers seen by Banerjee’s side during the dharna she held at Esplanade in Kolkata on February 3 to protest an attempt by a Central Bureau of Investigation team to enter the residence of former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar to question him in the Saradha scam.
Banerjee fumed at a rally in Kalchini in north Bengal. “If the BJP thinks that by transferring my officers they will make me weak, they are mistaken. Those who have replaced these officers are also my officers. They cannot put me down so easily. The more you try to harm me, the stronger I will become,”she said.
Reacting to her statement, Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said, “This is only the beginning. More officers will be transferred because they are the ones who conduct polls for the Trinamool Congress… No police officer who is tainted, corrupt and a lackey (of the ruling party) would be allowed to participate in the election process.”
In Delhi, the Congress hit out at the EC after it was learnt to have let off Adityanath with a light rap for his “Modiji ki sena” remark, merely asking him to be “more careful in his utterances in future”.
The party also came down hard on the EC communication to NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar, saying he criticised the Congress’s proposed minimum income scheme NYAY but the commission had only told him not to repeat it in future.
“NITI Aayog vice chairman criticises the NYAY scheme and then the EC says ‘don’t do it in future’,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said. Why is the EC shying away from showing the mirror of truth to those in power, Surjewala wondered.
Late on Saturday, senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan, too, criticised the EC for “letting off” Adityanath for his comments on the army during a public address in Ghaziabad on Sunday. “Yogi said ‘Modi ki fauj hai’, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also said the same thing but the Election Commission did nothing,” Azam Khan said in Rampur.