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EC watches its 'wayward' own

Now, the watchmen are facing the music. Their crime: Mixing business with pleasure, reports GC Shekhar.

india Updated: May 03, 2006 11:36 IST
GC Shekhar

The watchmen are under watch and facing the music too. Their crime: High-handedness and mingling business with pleasure.

Sohan Lal, the election observer at Salem 1, who insisted that partymen shed their party-bordered dhotis and pull down party flags and flagposts, has been removed by the Election Commission.

The EC's action followed a spate of complaints from parties about the "unreasonable" conditions being laid by the IAS officer from Rajasthan.

While Sohan Lal is busy packing his bags, three others in Madurai have also come under the EC scanner after a spree of sight-seeing trips.

Ashwini Kumar, an official from Maharashtra and observer of Madurai (East), spent two days holidaying in Kodaikanal, another day at Thekkadi and a day at Rameswaram. At Rameswaram he bawled at officials when they could not get him a jeep to go to Dahnushkodi.

Two other observers — Amith Jha and Roopram Jhowal — observers for Thriuparakundram and Samaynallur respectively, along with another observer from Ramanthapuram district are just back from a holiday in Kodaikanal and Meghamalai and have reportedly asked revenue officials to organise a trip to Kanyakumari.

"They venture out of their circuit house only after 11 am and are then back for lunch and a snooze. It is followed by a two-hour stint in the evening before retiring by 7 pm though the campaign continues till 10 in the night," complained a senior revenue official.

But the greatest burden on the attending officials is the tab. The observers have run up huge bills, which the revenue officials have to shell out from their personal kitties. The EC had sanctioned only Rs 5,000 as incidental expenses.