- Fully within our rights to transfer the IPS officers: Election Commission
- Transfers based on "cumulative feedback" from top officials, it said
- Mamata Banerjee has alleged that EC was working at the behest of the BJP
The Election Commission has rejected allegations of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee that it carried an "arbitrary, motivated" order on transfer of state police officials "at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre".
In a letter dated April 6, Deputy Election Commissioner (DEC) Chandra Bhushan Kumar wrote that the Election Commission acted according to the law and that it was within its rights to transfer the four IPS officers on Friday. The transfers were ordered after evaluating complaints by the Opposition and the ECI's own assessment, he said.
In what could be viewed as a snub to Ms Banerjee, Mr Kumar referred to "factually incorrect innuendos" in her letter and wrote, "It is unfortunate that an exercise carried out by ECI only for the duration of the Model Code of Conduct is being labelled as arbitrary, motivated at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre. It would not be correct and dignified to make such averments to prove/burnish its credentials."
On Friday, the poll body had ordered the removal of four top IPS officers and had replaced them with officers without allegedly consulting the state government or asking for a panel of officers to choose from, which was routine.
The four top officers included two Police Commissioners -- of Kolkata and Bidhannagar -- and two Superintendents of Police of the Birbhum and Diamond Harbour districts. The Election Commission ordered that these four officers could not be involved in any election duty.
"The anger of Mamata Banerjee at the election commission is sign that she knows the earth is slipping out from under her feet," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a rally at Cooch Behar on Sunday.
Mamata Banerjee responded at a rally at Jalpaiguri saying, "If you think you will win elections by transferring a couple of officers, you are wrong. They are all our officers and you are doing this because you know you are going to lose."
The West Bengal chief minister had named the BJP in her letter to the ECI and urged it to review its decision and also unearth who was really behind the decision to transfer the officers.
The DEC wrote back in his four page latter, "It is not as if any state was being singled out."