Row in Gujarat over 'letter' seeking information on BJP poll debacle

A controversy on Monday erupted in Gujarat's Junagadh in light of a letter purportedly "issued" by the district administation to the subordinates sought information at the behest of the Chief Minister's office, about the ruling BJP's debacle in panchayat polls last year.

Ahmedabad: A controversy on Monday erupted in Gujarat's Junagadh in light of a letter purportedly "issued" by the district administation to the subordinates sought information at the behest of the Chief Minister's office, about the ruling BJP's debacle in panchayat polls last year.

The letter dated January 4, issued to mamlatdars, taluka development officers and other subordinate officers, seeks names of the defeated BJP candidates in the respective areas and reasons for defeat.

Junagadh Collector Alok Kumar Pandey, however, said it had been drafted "by mistake" and was "never sent out".

Signed by Mahesh Joshi, a clerk at the collectorate, it says, the Chief Minister's Office "wanted" this information.

"Details have been sought by the CMO about the results of the recently held district and taluka panchayat elections of 2015. Furnish the details of your respective region today itself by fax as per the prescribed form attached here," it says.

Joshi, when contacted, claimed he sent the letter upon orders from higher-ups. "I signed the letter on behalf of election officer and collector of Junagadh as I was asked to do so by my superior officers," he said.

But the collector denied it. "Joshi drafted that letter by mistake. The CMO never sought such information from us. That letter was never sent to any of our officers. We even took disciplinary action against him for drafting the letter without understanding the subject matter," said Pandey.

State Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi alleged that it proved the BJP was "using the government machinery".

"We have been saying for long that BJP is using the government machinery for its own benefit. This letter proves our claim....Involving government officers in party's work is unconstitutional and we will take legal action against this," Doshi said.  

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