The Election Commission has suspended a high-ranking poll observer deputed to Odisha on charges of "dereliction of duty" with regard to " Special Protection Group protectees" -- in a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to an EC order, Karnataka cadre IAS officer Mohammed Mohsin was suspended for "actions contrary to the instructions of the Commission concerning SPG protectees" on April 16 -- the day SPG-protectee Prime Minister Modi visited Sambalpur to address an election rally.
The EC took the action against the general observer of Sambalpur on the basis of a report submitted by the district collector and the deputy inspector general of police.
Modi was stated to have been held up at the place for nearly 15 minutes because of Mohsin's "actions". The officer allegedly checked PM's chopper in violation of norms.
"Checking of the prime minister's chopper, undertaken at Sambalpur, was not in accordance with the EC guidelines as SPG protectees are exempt from such checking," said an official in Bhubaneswar without elaborating.
The Congress on Thursday questioned the Election Commission order suspending a high-ranking poll official deputed to Odisha for allegedly checking the prime minister's chopper and said EC rules "do not exempt" PM's vehicle from being checked.
The opposition party accused the EC of "bias" after it suspended Karnataka cadre IAS officer Mohammed Mohsin.
The Congress also wondered what Modi was carrying in his helicopter that he did not want India to see.
"An official was suspended by ECI for doing his job of inspecting vehicles. The rule cited governs the use of official vehicles for campaigning. It does not exempt PM's vehicle from being searched," the Congress said on its official Twitter handle.
"What is Modi carrying in the helicopter that he doesn't want India to see?" it added.
The Congress said instead of checking all flights of leaders, the EC was acting against its officials.
"After the case of the mysterious box being moved from Modi's chopper, we'd have expected the Election Commission of India to investigate every flight.
"But suspending an official who did this reeks of bias," the party said in another tweet.
"There have been instances where during polls EC was allowed to check convoys of both current and the former Congress president. SPG protectees can't be frisked personally. Why suspend an officer for checking PM's chopper? What message is being sent? Law is special for some?" senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel tweeted.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's helicopter was also checked by EC flying squad personnel in Rourkela on Tuesday.
A similar check was carried out on Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan's chopper at Sambalpur Tuesday by a flying squad, sources said.