All returning officers (ROs) in three assembly constituencies of SAS Nagar district are women. Not only this, the nodal officer for disposing of poll-related complaints is also a woman.
Ironically, there is only one female candidate from different political parties in the district.
While 2014-batch IAS officer Ruhi Dugg is sub-divisional magistrate (SDM)-cum- returning officer, Dera Bassi, Punjab Civil Service (PCS) officers Anuprita Johal and Amninder Kaur Brar are holding the posts of retuning officers in SAS Nagar and Kharar assembly segments.
Nayan Bhullar, a 2012-batch PCS officer, is ADC (grievances) is nodal officer of Sveep (Systematic voters’ education and electoral participation) and complaint cell of the election commission in the district.
“The biggest challenge is to be taken seriously by the staff, officers and the public. A female officer has to put in double effort,” said Nayan Bhullar. She has been monitoring complaints filed through the election commission’s online portal ‘Samadhan’. Till date, 146 complaints have been lodged in the district with of them being regarding the voters’ list. Of these, 145 complaints have been disposed of.
For Ruhi Dugg, it is her first election as a returning officer.
“It is more of an advantage than a challenge. Being a female officer is an advantage as people hesitate in approaching us for undue favours,” said Dugg. It was she who directed to withdraw the escort security of Dera Bassi MLA NK Sharma since he was using the same for public rallies.
For Anuprita Johal, SAS Nagar returning officer-cumSDM, this would be her fourth election, including the 2014 parliamentary poll. “The election commission guidelines are selfexplanatory. All we have to do is to implement them. We are just following the ECI directives and hence I am not facing any diffimost culty,” she says.
She made it sure that the political parties and their candidates take prior permission before hosting any kind of meeting with voters. She had issued notices to the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for hosting dinners without permission.
For Amninder Kaur Brar, a 2012-batch PCS officer and Kharar returning officer-cumSDM, transition from a housewife to an officer was easy. “It is our responsibility to ensure that the election code is not violated. It is the call of duty that we rise to the occasion. But for this, family support is a must and my family stands by me,” said Brar, mother of a three-year-old..
Brar has ensured no vehicle is used for electioneering without prior permission.