The Election Commission in an unprecedented action ordered campaigning in nine West Bengal constituencies to end at 10 pm on Thursday, a day before its scheduled deadline, in the wake of violence between Bharatiya Janata Party and Trinamool Congress workers in Kolkata.
Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar said it was for the first time that such an action has been taken using constitutional powers of the poll panel.
The EC also ordered the removal of Principal Secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya and Additional Director General, CID, Rajeev Kumar from their postings in West Bengal.
Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain, who is in charge of West Bengal, said Bhattacharya “stands relieved” from his current charge immediately, “for having interfered in the process of conducting elections” by directing the state chief electoral officer, which he was not supposed do. The state chief secretary will look after the charge of the home secretary.
He said Rajeev Kumar has been attached to the ministry of home affairs and should report to his new assignment by 10.00 am on Thursday.
The EC’s action came a day after parts of Kolkata witnessed widespread violence during BJP president Amit Shah’s massive road show in the city. A bust of 19th century Bengali icon Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar was also vandalised during the violence.
“This would be the first time when EC has invoked Article 324 in this manner but it may not be the last in cases of repetition of lawlessness and violence which vitiate the conduct of polls in a peaceful and orderly manner,” Deputy Election Commissioner Kumar said.