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Election Commission Removes Home Secretaries in 6 States, Bengal DGP

election commission

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has taken decisive action by issuing orders for the removal of several key officials in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. This move is aimed at upholding the principles of free, fair, and transparent elections across the country.

Key Developments:

  1. Home Secretaries Removed: The ECI has ordered the removal of six Home Secretaries from different states. These officials, who hold crucial administrative positions, have been relieved of their duties. The affected states include Gujarat, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
  2. West Bengal’s Top Cop Transferred: In a significant move, the ECI has also directed the transfer of West Bengal’s Director-General of Police (DGP). West Bengal has been a hotspot for poll-related violence in recent years, and this decision aims to ensure a level playing field during the upcoming elections.
  3. Shortlist of Replacements: The Election Commission has instructed that a shortlist of three potential replacements for each position be prepared and submitted by 5 pm. This process ensures a smooth transition and continuity in administrative functions1.

Context and Significance:

  • First Bureaucratic Re-Shuffle: Notably, this is the first bureaucratic re-jig initiated by the ECI since announcing the polling dates. The move underscores the commission’s commitment to maintaining neutrality and fairness in the electoral process.
  • Dual Charge and Neutrality: The personnel removed were found to be holding dual charge in the offices of their respective chief ministers. This situation could compromise the required neutrality, especially concerning law and order before, during, and after polling. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, Sanjay Prasad, the Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, had been given additional charge of the Home Department in 20221.
  • Bengal’s Reaction: The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal has not yet reacted to the removal of DGP Rajiv Malik. Malik’s proximity to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party adds further intrigue to this development. Historically, the state government has questioned last-minute re-shuffles of senior civil service and police officials, arguing that it hampers preparations as new appointees need time to adjust to their roles.
  • Violence During Polling: West Bengal has frequently witnessed violence during polling seasons. Last year, over a dozen people were killed across the state during panchayat elections. The ECI’s actions aim to mitigate such incidents and ensure a smooth electoral process.

As the nation gears up for the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission’s proactive measures underscore its commitment to maintaining the integrity of the democratic process. The removal of Home Secretaries and the transfer of the Bengal DGP signal the commission’s resolve to create a level playing field for all political parties and uphold the spirit of democracy.

Stay tuned for further updates as the election season unfolds.

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