EC Takes Drastic Steps: Cuts Poll Campaign Hrs

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Kolkata: In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission of India (EC) has removed Bengal home secretary Atri Bhattacharya on charges of interfering in the on-going Lok Sabha election process.

This is unprecedented as the home secretary is not involved in the poll process. The EC has cited a letter that Bhattacharya wrote to the chief electoral officer on the functioning of Central forces during the polls in Bengal. Bengal chief secretary Malay De has been asked to shoulder the responsibilities of the home secretary for the time being.

Also, the poll panel has removed controversial IPS officer Rajeev Kumar from the post of additional director general (CID) and has asked him to report to the Union home ministry in Delhi by 10 am tomorrow 16 May. This apart, the EC has ordered that campaigning for the last phase of polls in Bengal, which is on 19 May, shall end at 10 pm tomorrow 16 May, instead of 5 pm of 17 May.

The EC made the announcement in an urgent news conference in Delhi today evening. It has cited a report furnished by deputy election commissioner Sudeep Jain, who had reviewed the poll process in Kolkata on 13 May, and reports by special observer Ajay V Nayak and central police observer Vivek Dubey, as the basis for the unprecedented move.

Hence, in the exercise of powers under Article 324 of the Constitution that vests superintendence, direction, and control of elections on the EC, it is ending the campaigning for 19 May polls 19 hours in advance than scheduled.

The sale and consumption of alcohol in both public and private places in the nine constituencies have been ordered to stop from 10 pm tomorrow.