Neither Prasun Mukherjee nor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee saw it coming. But at Wednesday's Left Front meeting, the chief minister was virtually forced by Forward Bloc, RSP and CPI leaders to seal the fate of the city police commissioner and IPS officers Gyanwant Singh and Ajay Kumar.
The leaders, headed by FB state secretary Ashok Ghosh, told Bhattacharjee they wanted the officers removed "immediately". Sources said the leaders were so agitated, their voices could be heard from outside. The CM had no option, especially when the CPI-M leadership, which had stood by him all these days, joined the other leaders.
Although social and political pressure had been mounting on Bhattacharjee for the last 26 days, he had wanted his way as far as transferring the officers was concerned.
The Front leaders minced no words in making their displeasure at the government's handling of the case felt. "The chief minister tried to argue that he needs to consult legal experts before taking a decision. He had no answer when we asked him how he could still have faith in legal experts who had advised him to order a CID probe, which the Calcutta High Court has described as illegal," one leader told
"After a round of arguments, the CM left the room, saying he'd ask the chief secretary to prepare the transfer orders.
But he came back and said it would not be wise to transfer the three officers from Lalbazar during Durga Puja. To this, Ashok Ghosh said there shouldn't be a moment's delay in transferring the officers and any experienced officer could handle police arrangements during the festivals," the leader added.
After the meeting, Front chairman Biman Bose told reporters: "IPS officers are not holy cows. Even they can be punished." Asked if any officer would be promoted and shifted out of Lalbazar, he said: "Promotion is not punishment."
The chief minister, on his part, maintained that though West Bengal, like five other states, had approached the Supreme Court questioning the high court's authority to unilaterally order a CBI probe, his government had accepted Tuesday's high court order in view of public sentiment.