Calcutta, April 22: The Election Commission has directed the removal of three block development officers and 15 officers in charge of different police stations from poll duty because of complaints of bias and inaction against most of them.
The move comes about two weeks after the commission removed a district magistrate, four superintendents of police and two assistant district magistrates on similar grounds.
The poll panel sent a letter to the state government late this evening, ordering the removal of the 18 officials from election duty. The missive, a copy of which was forwarded to the chief electoral officer’s office in Calcutta, also asked for recommendations for suitable replacements by tomorrow, sources said.
Late tonight, government officials said the process to remove the block development officers of Bishnupur I and Budge Budge I in South 24-Parganas and Egra II in East Midnapore had been started.
The 15 police officers whose removal the commission has sought include the officers in charge of Keshpur and Pingla (West Midnapore), Kanksa and Mangalkot (Burdwan), Behrampore (Murshidabad), Madhyamgram (North 24-Parganas), Baruipur (South 24-Parganas) and Shibpur (Howrah).
“The commission has decided to remove these officials from poll duty and place them on compulsory waiting. There have been several complaints of partiality and inaction against them,” said a poll panel source this evening.
Sources said the move to order the removal of the officers today had been endorsed by Bengal’s special state observer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, who this evening met delegations from the CPM, Congress and the BJP and heard their complaints against officials allegedly biased towards the ruling establishment.
“The biggest challenge for the commission regarding electioneering in Bengal this time is bias among officials for the ruling establishment. That’s why a special state observer was sent to the state,” said a commission source, adding that the poll panel had removed 25 officials from poll duty in the past two weeks.
Rakesh today said he would visit Birbhum soon to review poll preparedness there, a day after about 150 explosives went off together and killed two youths hired to make crude bombs in the backyard of a Trinamul leader’s home in the district.
Asked about Birbhum Trinamul chief Anubrata Mondal and party MLA Manirul Islam, both of whom have been show-caused by the commission for provocative speeches, the poll observer said: “The commission has all the correct medicines.”
Poll panel sources said Rakesh had sent a detailed report to Nirvachan Sadan in Delhi on the complaints of bias and inaction against the officials.