The Director General of Bengal Police has been replaced by Election Commission ahead of the coming assembly elections in the state, amid concerns of violence voiced the loudest by the BJP. Indian Police Service officer P Nirajnayan has been named the new police chief.
The state is set for a closely-watched contest between the ruling Trinamool Congress and a surging BJP, which is hoping to win 200 of the state’s 294 seats. Elections will begin on March 27 and continue till April 29, making it the longest ever polls in the state. The results will be declared on May 2.
While announcing the election dates last month, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had said the election body would send two observers to keep an eye on police operations and a third one if needed.
The Commission, which announced an eight-phase poll, did not comment on whether the polling has been stretched out over the concerns raised by the BJP.
The outgoing Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, however, suggested that security had played a role in the planning.
“We avoid taking names of political parties. We had an assessment of law and order on several factors. Last time it was seven phases so eight is not a big deal,” Mr Arora had said.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had questioned the move, tagging it was made “as per BJP requisition”.
“Bihar has 240 seats and had elections in three phases. Tamil Nadu has 234 seats and will have election in one day. Why eight phases here? Who is benefitting?” she said.
The Chief Minister had also alleged that the polls were being stretched out in areas where the Trinamool Congress has a strong base and cited th example of South 24 Parganas, where the election is being held in three phases.