EC appoints special observer for West Bengal

Kolkata: In a repeat of the 2004 general elections, the Election Commission has appointed a special observer for West Bengal to keep a watch on the poll process in all 42 constituencies in the state.

Sudhir Kumar Rakesh -- a 1983 batch IAS officer of Bihar cadre -- has been appointed as the special observer for the state, Amit Roy Chowdhury, OSD in the office of the state's Chief Electoral Officer, told reporters today.

The move came following recent attacks on poll panel officials by ruling Trinamool Congress workers and a spate of complaints by opposition parties against state government officials in the districts.

Rakesh would be arriving here this evening itself en-route to north Bengal where three districts are going to the poll tomorrow in the first phase, EC sources said.

The special observer had been to West Bengal earlier in 2011 to oversee the Assembly poll preparedness.

State's Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta had earlier said that 42 general observers and as many expenditure observers had been appointed for the state.

For the first time 17 IPS officers have also been appointed as 'police observers' for all the 42 constituencies following demand by the opposition parties in the state.

The special observer would be in charge of all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies and would directly report to the EC as well as coordinate with the state's CEO Sunil Gupta, the sources said.

Opposition parties had complained to Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath during his recent visit to the state about partiality shown by state government officals towards the ruling party, which led to transfer of eight state government officials.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had initially refused to transfer the officals and targeted the poll panel of her blistering attack in campaign speeches before finally yielding.

In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the EC had appointed IAS officer of the Bihar Cadre Afzal Amanullah as special observer following demand by the Trinamool Congress, then in opposition.

PTI
First Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 20:38
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