|Mamata with Anubrata Mondal, a Trinamul leader accused in a murder case, on Wednesday. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Calcutta, April 9: The Election Commission today reassigned to Uttar Pradesh a Bengal poll official who is facing Opposition charges of bias and was the private secretary of Trinamul’s Mukul Roy when he was minister.
The change of location of Barun Ray, who has been assisting Bengal’s chief electoral officer Sunil Kumar Gupta, was announced a few hours after the state government formally accepted the transfers ordered by the commission on Monday and officially ended a stand-off.
The seven removed officials were today given “prestigious” posts by the state government till the election process is over. “That means, I will be attending office in Calcutta for the next two months or so and I will return to my previous place of posting as soon as the election process is over,” said an official.
The poll panel also picked IPS officer M.K. Singh to fill the vacancy of additional director-general (law and order) in Bengal. The government had suggested three names, of which the chief minister’s first preference was thought to be Shibaji Ghosh, now additional director-general (housing).
Barun Ray, the official reassigned to Uttar Pradesh, is from the 1992 IAS batch and was posted as an officer on special duty in the Bengal chief electoral officer’s office. He was Mukul Roy’s private secretary when the Trinamul MP was the junior shipping minister at the Centre.
Gupta, the chief electoral officer, today dubbed Barun Ray’s reassignment “routine”.
But Forward Bloc former Rajya Sabha MP Jayanta Roy, among the leaders who met the commission’s full bench on Sunday, said the Opposition drew the panel’s attention to Barun Ray’s previous posting as Mukul Roy’s private secretary.
“He was posted in the Bengal chief electoral officer’s office following the Trinamul (all-India) general secretary’s intervention last year,” Jayanta Roy claimed. Appointments to the chief electoral officer’s office are made on the recommendation of the state government and with the approval of the Election Commission.
Without taking names, Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya said: “We had told the poll panel that there is an officer who is known for his proximity to a Trinamul Rajya Sabha MP. We complained to the EC that this officer is known to convey the office’s confidential information to the ruling party”.
Neither Mukul Roy nor Barun Ray could be reached for comment.
Unlike the seven officials who had been taken off poll duty, Barun Ray will work as the general observer for the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh till May 1. By then, three of the five phases of polling in Bengal will be over.
The Election Commission will examine the recordings of more speeches of Mamata Banerjee before deciding whether to showcause the chief minister on her remarks against the panel.