TMC cries BJP control over EC as Vivek Sahay replaces Rajeev Kumar as Bengal DGP

Election Commission directed the removal of West Bengal DGP Rajeev Kumar and mandated the appointment of Vivek Sahay, once suspended by the poll panel, as the new state police chief.
Vivek Sahay IPS
Vivek Sahay IPS

Kolkata | The Election Commission of India (ECI) directed the removal of West Bengal DGP Rajeev Kumar and mandated the appointment of Vivek Sahay, once suspended by the poll panel, as the new state police chief.

West Bengal's ruling TMC alleged that BJP has "control" over the commission.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the ECI on Monday ordered the removal of home secretaries of six states, West Bengal's director general of police (DGP), and the secretary of the general administrative departments of Mizoram and Himachal Pradesh.

Following the instruction of the ECI, the West Bengal government on Monday appointed Sahay as the new DGP of the state, a decision taken within hours after the poll panel removed Rajeev Kumar as the DGP.

Sahay, a 1988-batch IPS officer, was the Director General and Commandant General (Home Guards).

Appointed as the state DGP last December, Kumar was moved to the Information and Technology department, an assignment not related to the election. He was the secretary of the same department before being appointed as the state police chief.

Considered an officer close to the ruling TMC, Kumar was removed as the Commissioner of Kolkata Police and ADG of West Bengal CID by the ECI during the 2016 assembly polls and 2019 general elections respectively.

Incidentally, EC had also also suspended Sahay in March 2021 when he was the director of security, following an incident when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee suffered injuries in Nandigram during campaigning for the assembly polls.

The EC has asked Chief Secretary BP Gopalika to post Rajeev Kumar to a "non-election" related assignment and post an officer immediately junior to him as DGP, as an interim arrangement.

The state government was asked by the EC for a panel of three officers from the state to be considered for the position of DGP.

Following the EC's directions, the state proposed the names of Sahay, Sanjay Mukherjee, and Rajesh Kumar, a senior official said. The EC chose Sahay, who is a senior in the service.

Criticising the removal of West Bengal DGP Rajeev Kumar, the ruling Trinamool Congress claimed it was a glaring example of the BJP's "control" over the ECI.

Addressing a press conference, TMC general secretary Kunal Ghosh claimed that BJP was gripped by the fear of losing the Lok Sabha seats in the state. "The BJP is trying to misuse all institutions, including the Election Commission. They are even meddling with the appointment of the election commissioners by changing the recruitment panel. The step taken today is a glaring example of the BJP's control over the EC," Ghosh said.

"It doesn't matter if BJP changes even 100 such officers because the people of Bengal are with Mamata Banerjee," he added.

According to a senior TMC leader, the removal of Kumar from the post of the DGP was on expected lines.

“It was expected that Rajeev Kumar would be removed. We were prepared for it,” he said.

The BJP welcomed the move and said Kumar was known as “someone close to the ruling dispensation.

“We all know the role Kumar had played in several investigations concerning the TMC government in the state. As long as he is the DGP, there can never be a level playing field,” BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya said.

A 1989 batch IPS officer with an engineering degree from IIT Roorkee, Kumar held prominent positions such as Commissioner of Kolkata Police, Joint Commissioner (Special Task Force), and Director General (CID), among others.

Under his leadership, the STF of Kolkata Police gained notoriety for its operations against Maoist leaders and criminals.

Renowned for his prowess as an investigator and a formidable information network, he played a crucial role in apprehending Chattaradhar Mahato, a significant figure in the Lalgarh movement. Additionally, he oversaw the STF's pivotal contributions in undermining the Maoist movement from 2009 to 2011.

Elections for the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal will be held over seven phases, beginning on April 19.

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