Anticipating his removal by the Election Commission of India ( EC) ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Punjab director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini on Wednesday moved his case before the state government to proceed on leave from April 4 to May 20. The state goes to the polls on April 30, while the counting is on May 16.
Saini’s move came the day the official notification for the elections was issued in Punjab. He was under the EC scanner as the Punjab Congress had lodged complaints against him, accusing the DGP of favouring the ruling Akalis.
The EC’s deputy election commissioner incharge of Punjab, Alok Shukla, told Hindustan Times on the phone that a fax message was received late on Wednesday evening from the Punjab government that the DGP had sought leave.
“In anticipation that the state government would send the incumbent DGP on leave, we have asked for a panel of three names by Thursday, one of whom could be posted as the DGP,” he said. Shukla clarified that the EC had no objection in case the DGP or any other senior officer wanted to go on leave as far as there was no poll-related violation.
When asked about any direction to Saini to stay out of Punjab while the poll process was on, considering the Congress’ complaints against him of favouring the ruling SAD- BJP alliance, Shukla refused to comment.
The Congress had been seeking Saini’s removal and had lodged complaints with the state election office and the EC against him. Sources said the state’s panel to be sent to the EC for picking the next Punjab DGP would include GD Pandey, DGP, Home Guards; Sanjiv Gupta, DGP, prison reforms; and Suresh Arora, chief director, vigilance bureau.
On Tuesday, the EC had toughened its stand over senior police officers allegedly helping the ruling Akali_BJP alliance and ordered the transfer of deputy commissioners of Sangrur, Fazilka and Patiala, the police commissioner of Ludhiana, and four senior superintendents of police.