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Elections over, BDOs face govt backlash

Calcutta, May 27: Dinabandhu Gayen, the Habra II block development officer who had accused a Trinamul MLA and his aides of assaulting him for removing election paraphernalia carrying the chief minister’s images before the Lok Sabha polls, was today put on compulsory waiting.

Another BDO, Debdulal Patra of Barasat II, has also been put on compulsory waiting for leading several WBCS officers from North 24-Parganas to seek action against the MLA.

“Both the WBCS officers have been put on compulsory waiting following instructions from the government brass,” a senior official said.

The government did not cite any reason for sending the two officers on compulsory waiting. It is, however, not binding on the government to furnish reasons for such action against officials.

A section of officials said that by taking stern action against the two BDOs, the government might have sent a message to employees working at the grassroots.

“The message is clear. If any official takes a step that goes against the ruling party, however appropriate it may be, he or she will face the music,” an official said.

“The order to send the BDOs on compulsory waiting is in stark contrast with the one to reinstate officials who were transferred by the Election Commission for alleged bias towards the ruling party and for inaction on complaints lodged by the Opposition,” the official added.

BDO Gayen had initially lodged a police complaint alleging that Trinamul MLA Dhiman Roy and his associates had assaulted him on March 25 after he had removed festoons, posters and banners carrying the chief minister’s images from a road maintained by the PWD as it violated the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls.

Gayen later lodged a second complaint that did not mention Roy or any assault, confining the charges to threats and “hot talkings” by 25 Trinamul supporters.

North 24-Parganas district magistrate Sanjay Bansal, who had been accused of going slow on the probe into Gayen’s allegations, was transferred by the Election Commission on April 7 along with six other officials for alleged bias and inaction.

All eight officials were reinstated in their previous posts by the government through an order on May 19.

So far, the Trinamul government has sent over a dozen officials on compulsory waiting, including then Siliguri police commissioner K. Jayaraman on December 1.

Jayaraman, who has been on compulsory waiting for 187 days now, had arrested then Malda district magistrate Godala Kiran Kumar for alleged funds misappropriation when the IAS officer was the CEO of the Siliguri-Jalpaiguri Development Authority. Kiran Kumar is expected to be sent on compulsory waiting after he returns from leave sometime this week. The officer was sent on leave after he obtained bail on December 1.

Officials on compulsory waiting have to report to the personnel and administrative reforms department, but they are not given any work.

Barasat II BDO Patra, sources said, had led WBCS officers from North 24-Parganas to “put pressure” on Bansal to initiate steps against MLA Roy. “Patra had led the WBCS officers. It has now been proved that like Gayen, Patra has become a target of the administration,” a senior state government official said.