Less than 48 hours after political violence left three people dead at Basirhat and their families claimed that the police had failed to act, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said some of her ministers had also complained that a few lower-level policemen were "not doing their duty properly". The Director General of Police has already been told to take strong action, she added.
The admission drew an immediate reaction from the BJP. "Mamata Banerjee is the home minister. Her own ministers are apparently saying that the police are not doing their job. I say she must immediately resign," said BJP leader Mukul Roy.
Three people - a Trinamool Congress worker and two belonging to the BJP - were killed in post-election clashes that broke out between workers of the two parties at Basirhat in North 24 Paraganas district. In an advisory issued yesterday, the Union Home Ministry accused the state government of failing to contain the violence.
After a meeting with top cops, bureaucrats and ministers today, Ms Banerjee said, "I have asked the police to be strong. Hooliganism must be stopped. Some local officers in charge of police stations and Sub-Inspectors are not doing their duty."
She insisted that the state does not suffer from a law-and-order problem. "Many are doing good work but in three-four districts, there is a problem. We are getting information about who are not taking action or who are allowing hooliganism, what the game is. We will handle it strongly," she said.
According to sources, three top ministers told Mamata Banerjee at the meeting that several lower-level police officers were not listening to them. This reportedly prompted Ms Banerjee to tell Director General of Police Virendra that he must take strong action against errant cops instead of going "soft" on them.
Some ministers also reportedly complained that they were being plagued by mischievous calls from people who would either shout "Jai Sri Ram" into the phone or constantly send Whatsapp messages with the same chant.
On two occasions, Mamata Banerjee had been greeted with "Jai Shri Ram" and she had reacted angrily, turning the religious chant into a weapon in the hands of the BJP. The party has mailed thousands of post cards with the three-word chant written on it to her home address.