Mamata Banerjee apologises after CEC asks Bengal govt to explain Kolkata police chief's absence at election preparedness meeting

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said she was "sorry" that Commissioner of Kolkata Police Rajeev Kumar was not present at a meeting with the Election Commission of India (ECI) a day ago.

Earlier in the day, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora sought an explanation from the state government over the absence of Kumar at a meeting in Kolkata on Thursday, where the poll panel discussed election preparedness with senior officials.

"Rajeev Kumar is working as the city police commissioner for over three years, and he is now on leave. If the CEC says so, I am sorry for that (Kumar's absence)," Banerjee said when her views were sought on this matter.

File image of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File image of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

According to a well-placed source, during Friday's meeting with the chief secretary and home secretary, there was a strict directive from the commission to remove Kumar from the post.

According to ECI rules, any officer who has completed three years in the same place cannot continue there if the person has to be tasked with election duties.

An 1989-batch IPS officer, Kumar replaced Surajit Kar Purkayastha as the city commissioner in January 2016.

While interacting with the media, the CEC said: "The ECI has no idea about why the city police commissioner remained absent. We have sought an explanation from the controlling officer of the police commissioner in this matter."

Asked about the reason behind Kumar's absence from the meeting, Arora said somebody told him that it was the officer's birthday.

The commission had last month directed all state governments to transfer officials posted in their home districts and those who have spent three years in a post in the past four years.

It is usual for the poll panel to issue such directions ahead of the Lok Sabha or Assembly polls to ensure that officials do not interfere in the election process in any way and the exercise remains free and fair.

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Updated Date: Feb 02, 2019 11:22:55 IST

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