Following the lethal attack on the convoy of BJP National President JP Nadda and other senior leaders of the saffron party by the political goons of West Bengal earlier in December, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had summoned three IPS officers of the West Bengal cadre on central deputation. These officers were tasked with the security detailing of the BJP President, a job in which they visibly failed. Now, even as the MHA continues to seek authoritatively for the three IPS officers to be released by the state government, the Mamata administration has promoted one of them, furthering obstinacy against the Central government’s will.
By transferring two of the three officers wanted by the Central government on central deputation immediately, Mamata Banerjee has effectively sent a strong message to the police force in West Bengal. The message is troubling, to say the least, and unconstitutionally reeks of sovereign behaviour against the Central government as well. The three IPS officers, who were in charge of ensuring the safety of JP Nadda during his visit to South Bengal clearly failed in the task.
Whether they failed deliberately or not is subject of debate, however, Mamata Banerjee going out of her way to protect them signals to the police force in the state that lapses on their party when dealing with the BJP will have no consequences. Further, the police force will enjoy the patronage Mamata Banerjee if they toe her line against the BJP. The West Bengal police, as such, has been turned into a personal force of the Chief Minister, whom she uses to target political opponents at will.
The three officers were transferred along with a batch of 17 others in the state. Out of the 20 transfers, 13 officers were promoted. Rajeev Mishra, who was the Inspector General, South Bengal, has been promoted as the ADG, South Bengal. Bholanath Pandey, who was the Diamond Harbour SP, has now been transferred to a lesser significant post of SP, Home Guard. These two IPS officers were in-charge of Nadda’s security when his convoy was attacked on 10 December. Praveen Kumar Tripathi DIG (Presidency Range), who was also in-charge of JP Nadda’s security was kept on the same post.
The MHA had called the three officers on central deputations, for the following posts: Bholanath Pandeyas SP in the Bureau of Police Research and Development; Pravin Kumar Tripathi as DIG in Sashastra Seema Bal and Rajiv Mishra as IG in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. TFI had earlier reported that while the rulebook states that the IPS officers are sent on deputation to the Centre with the state’s consent, however, as per Rule 6 of the IPS Cadre Rules, 1954 – if the Centre and state were to disagree over an officer’s deputation, the Centre’s will would prevail.
Despite Mamata Banerjee being aware of the fact that her defiance of the central government on the said issue will not yield anything in her favour, the TMC supremo is using whatever time she has to signal to the state’s police force that it is her, and her administration that they must obey. If they do so and act as puppets of the TMC regime, they would be protected by no less than the Chief Minister, who will go out of her way to secure the said officers for toeing her line, in the contestation of their actual duties.
Mamata Banerjee might want to rethink her present strategy of patronising police officers. In all likelihood, the BJP will win the next assembly elections, and therefore, Mamata Banerjee will not be able to exercise the level of control and influence she currently enjoys over the state’s police force. Hence, it is not worth carving an authoritarian and unconstitutional image for oneself, all when there are no real-time chances of her being sworn in as the Chief Minister once again.