Mamata at the Belda rally. Picture by Samir Mondal
April 23: Mamata Banerjee today said the list of officers removed from poll duty today was drawn up at the home of Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, indirectly questioning the functioning of the Election Commission and adding another video tape to the poll panel’s growing collection.
“Why are police officers being changed? Can the police rig polls? How many officers can be transferred? The list of officers to be removed from their posts was drawn up at Ahmed Patel’s home,” Mamata said at a campaign rally in West Mindapore’s Belda.
The EC, which ordered the removal from poll duty of 23 administrative and police officers yesterday because of complaints of bias and inaction against most of them, this evening sought video footage of the chief minister’s speech.
Although senior officials of the EC, which had earlier seen footage of speeches of several politicians, declined comment on Mamata’s remarks, a member of the full bench said “every comment” made by the chief minister against the commission was being monitored.
“We have acquired and analysed footage from seven rallies and news conferences where she has attacked the commission or its officials. We will announce our decision shortly,” the official said.
At the Belda rally, Mamata said transferring inspectors-in-charge, officers-in-charge (of police stations), block development officers, district magistrates and superintendents of police “is not going to help them win elections”.
“Can you win by transferring these officers? The officers replacing them are also our people. Polls cannot be held by the EC’s men,” Mamata said.
The state government today complied with the EC’s order to remove from poll duty the 23 officers, but with the rider that they would be reinstated in their previous posts after the election process is over.
Although she did not name anyone, Mamata today made it clear that the officers in charge of Behrampore and Pingla police stations were removed to help Congress candidates Adhir Chowdhury and Manas Bhuniya.
“Transferring the Murshidabad’s police superintendent was not enough, the Behrampore officer in-charge also had to be transferred. That means they are afraid of losing in Behrampore. Was the Pingla OC changed to help the Congress candidate here?” she said at a rally in Ghatal, a seat Bhuniya is contesting.
The chief minister drew attention to the fact that her government had arrested Saradha owner Sudipta Sen and a dushtu sansad-sangbadik (naughty MP-journalist), a reference to Kunal Ghosh.
“The law is with the Centre. What were the CBI and the Sebi doing all this while? We arrested the owner and also a dushtu sansad-sangbadik. Are we at fault since we made these arrests?” Mamata said.
Asked about Mamata’s comments on Patel, state Congress chief Chowdhury said: “She is trying to save her neck from the sword of Saradha. She wants to be punished by the EC as her political weapons are fast running out.”