The Mamata government, which has been at pains to summon requisite forces to oversee the coming panchayat elections, has now been hit by a pressing crunch in the number of poll officials and staff.
While the requirement is for 15,000 poll officers and staff to oversee the conduct of the elections, the state can mobilise no more than 11,000, said senior officials at Writers’. Sources said even the state employees listed for poll duty have been missing training sessions on a regular basis. “The employees listed for poll duty are asked to report for training sessions in batches of 1,500 and 2,000, but as many as 800 to 1,000 employees on an average have been keeping away from these sessions,” a senior state official said.
The state government has reportedly taken a serious note of the matter and has issued show cause notices to around 400 employees for keeping away from the poll training sessions.
“With the number of poll booths this year going up to 2,446 as opposed to a little over 2,000 in the 2008 panchayat polls, the requirement of poll officials too has gone up by several notches, ”the state official said. The crisis has been blamed largely on the shortsighted approach of the Mamata government in picking the poll officials this year. The poll observers and workers this year have been picked from two state employee unions aligned to the ruling Trinamool Congress, while the rest have largely been sourced from among railway staff, bank officials and teachers. “However, the banks and railways have refused to release officials for poll duty, thereby leading to a shortfall in numbers,” the official said.