The West Bengal government on Monday appointed IPS officer Gyanwant Singh as the new director security, a day after the Election Commission of India (ECI) removed Vivek Sahay over the incident in Nandigram in which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was injured, an official said.
Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay held a meeting with Director General of Police P Nirajnayan and decided to appoint Singh, who was the additional director security, for the post, according to the official.
A communication about the state government’s decision was forwarded to the Election Commission, which had directed the state administration to appoint a new director security by 1 pm on Monday.
Gyanwant Singh, who held the post of Additional Director General (Security) before his new responsibility, is considered close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, the Election Commission had removed Singh from the post of Bidhannagar police commissioner.
Singh was reinstated and appointed Additional Director General (Law and Order) last year.
Singh has served in important posts like Deputy Commissioner (Detective Department), Deputy Commissioner in Kolkata Police and DIG (Murshidabad Range).
On Sunday, the Election Commission suspended and removed Vivek Sahay “for grossly failing in the discharge of his primary duty as Director Security to protect the Z+ protectee”. The EC also removed Purba Medinipur district police chief Pravin Prakash, Purba Medinipur district magistrate Vibhu Goel in connection with the May 10 incident in Nandigram in which the Chief Minister was injured. While the Elections Commission did not agree with the TMC’s allegation that it was “pre-meditated attack” on Banerjee, it said that there were security lapses and took action against some of the officials.
Meanwhile, the newly appointed special police observer for the Bengal Assembly elections and former Punjab DGP (intelligence), Anil Kumar Sharma, will visit the state on Wednesday to review security for the eight-phase polls starting March 27.
According to sources at the State Electoral Officer’s office, Ajay V Nayek, a 1984-batch retired IAS officer, has been appointed a special general observer while Vivek Dube, a 1981-batch IPS officer from Andhra Pradesh cadre, and Mrinal Kanti Das, a retired 1977-batch IPS officer from Manipur-Tripura cadre, are special police observers. B Murli Kumar, a 1983-batch retired IRS officer, has been made special expenditure observer.
As per the Election Commission, the first phase will have 10,288 booths, of which 1,553 are exclusive to women. Total 705 companies of central forces and over 7,000 woman election officials would be deployed in the first phase for 30 seats, sources said. Each booth will be manned by central forces. The 30 seats are spread over five districts with the highest number of booth in Purulia district (3,127), followed by Purba Medinipur (2,437), Paschim Medinipur (2,089) and Bankura (1,328), an EC official said.
Total 176 nominations have been filed for the second phase on April 1.
The number of polling booths has increased to 1,01,916 from 77,413 in 2016 Assembly polls to ensure social distancing in view of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has seized items and cash worth Rs 110.85 crore since February 26.
—With PTI inputs