The Election Commission on Wednesday removed Rajeev Kumar as ADG CID and Atri Bhattacharya as principal secretary (home) of West Bengal. The decision followed large-scale violent clashes involving supporters of the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP during the road show of Amit Shah.
The EC took the extraordinary step to remove two senior bureaucrats of the state government by invoking for the first time Article 324 of the Constitution, which gives it the powers of ‘superintendence, direction and control of elections.’ This means that the campaigning in West Bengal will end a day early on Thursday night at 10 pm even though the polling for the last phase will take place on 19 May.
The order by the Election Commission said, “Election Commission of India is deeply anguished at the vandalism done to the statue of Respected late Shri Ishwar Chandra
Bandyopadhyay who was conferred the title of ‘Vidyasagar’ by Sanskrit College, Kolkata. Besides his many other achievements as a Philosopher, Academie Educator, Writer and Philanthropist, he worked all his life in the cause of widow remarriage which was unthought and unheard of in the ultra conservative society of those days. It is hoped that the vandals are traced by the state administration.”
Several top BJP leaders had approached the Election Commission on Tuesday night asking the powerful poll body to intervene and ban West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from campaigning.
A BJP delegation on Wednesday was also expected to meet Vice President Venkaiah Naidu over the same issue.
On Tuesday, violent clashes between TMC and BJP workers had seen vehicles set on fire. A statue of famous Bengali reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was also vandalised inside the famous Vidyasagar College in north Kolkata. Banerjee and her party had accused Amit Shah of bringing ‘goons’ from outside Bengal to carry out violence in Kolkata.