Election Body Removes Official Over Failure To Present Covid Action Plan For Polls

The Election Commission had announced three-phased election in Bihar. (File)

Patna:

The Election Commission on Wednesday removed Bihar Excise Commissioner B Karthikey Dhanji from the post before the state assembly polls, while the seven-member poll panel headed by CEC Sunil Arora heard representatives of political parties on arrangements for conduct of elections during COVID-19 pandemic.

The Election Commission had announced three-phased election in Bihar, which has been billed as one of the biggest elections globally during coronavirus pandemic.

The commission ordered removal of the 2008 batch IAS officer from the post of the excise commissioner with immediate effect for not presenting an effective action plan on preventive measures, an EC release said.

The officer was also removed for the grossly inadequate preparedness during the review of enforcement agencies located in or headquartered in Bihar, an EC release said.

The poll panel which is here to fine-tune arrangements for the conduct of polls in the state amid surging COVID-19 cases met representatives of political parties.

The panel also held a meeting with police officials of the state.

Election commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar are part of the high-level team to the state.

The EC panel will hold a press conference on Thursday evening before winding up its three-day trip to the poll-bound Bihar, an official said.

Voting for 243 assembly seats in Bihar will be held on October 28, November 3 and November 7. Counting of votes will take place on November 10.

Representatives of JD(U), BJP, RJD, Congress, CPI and LJP among others presented their views before the poll panel.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar headed JD(U) was represented by its leader in Lok Sabha, Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, party leader in Rajya Sabha RCP Singh and two state ministers Ashok Choudhary and Sanjay Kumar Jha.

Mr Jha said that the JD(U) leaders had urged the panel that its officials should complete the formalities beforehand for voting through ballot papers by electorate over 80 years of age and divyangs as many of them, particularly in the rural areas, may not be able to complete the procedure themselves.

On EC guideline that not more than five persons would be present during the door-to-door campaigning, they said the candidates would abide by it. But if some local people flock around them in the process they should not be penalised.

Mr Jha said they also sought clarification as to whether there is any number fixed in respect to the audience at the public meeting venues earmarked by the EC.

He said they were told that officials have identified fields where public meetings could be held and the number of those attending them will be determined by the space available for observing social distancing norms.

The BJP team urged the EC that the central forces conduct flag marches a day before the conduct of the polls to instill confidence in the people. Voters should be properly identified as per their EPIC cards after removing their face masks.

They also requested that political parties should be informed about arrangements made in the containment zones.

The BJP team comprised its state general secretary Janak Ram, state convenor of EC cell Radhika Raman and party state unit’s chief of law and election SD Sanjay.

Main opposition RJD represented by its national spokesman and MP Manoj Kumar Jha and state unit spokesman Chitranjan Gagan suggested that since polling is taking place when coronavirus is rampant, every voter should have insurance cover.

In the event of a voter contracting infection while casting his/her vote, the government should take care of the individual’s treatment for COVID.

They urged that irrespective of the number of voters, special booths should be set up in areas where overwhelming majority of minorities, dalit, backward and weaker sections of the society live.

Lalu Prasad’s party also sought arrangements of ambulance and medicare at polling booths.

Congress representatives requested that permissions for holding public meeting and procession should be granted by BDOs as offices of the district and division officers in many places are located at far-off places. Besides, doctors’ teams should be made available for every 10 booths in an area, they said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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