The transfers of 12 Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and six Assam Police Service (APS) officers have been stopped by the Election Commission since the orders came after the announcement of dates for the March-April state elections.
“The commission vide its press note dated 26th February 2021, had announced the schedule of General Elections to Legislative Assemblies of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry,” the Election Commission said in a news release.
“With this announcement, the provisions of Model Code of Conduct has come into force with immediate effect, which includes a total ban on the transfers/postings of all officers connected with the conduct of elections,” it said.
“It has come to the notice of Commission that Govt. of Assam has, on 26th February 2021, ordered the transfer of 12 IPS and 6 APS officers. The Commission has therefore decided to keep the transfer/posting of these police officers in abeyance till further orders,” the Election Commission added.
The announcement of the election dates kicks in the model code of conduct for political parties and candidates and restricts state governments from declaring populist programmes and ordering the transfer of bureaucrats and police officers.
Assam will see three-phased assembly polls from March 27 to April 6. Counting for all three phases will take place on May 2. The ruling BJP will try to retain power in the state while the Congress will try to win Assam back.
Both parties and even the state’s people however wanted the elections to take place before the festival of Rongali Bihu that happens in mid-April.
This is the first election in the northeast after the Congress was ousted from the region. With the BJP successfully gaining power in several states in the region, this time it is about retaining it for the party.
For the first time in Assam, Congress is not going solo. The party has allied with once arch-rival – Badaruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF, a smaller regional outfit – Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM) and three Left parties.
Turning it into a three-way battle is an alliance of two regional parties born out of the anti-CAA protests in Assam – the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) formed by former members of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and other civil society groups and the Raijor Dol, formed by the supporters of noted activist Akhil Gogoi who is in jail for over a year on sedition charges over the anti-CAA protests.