For the next four weeks, 119 senior officers from the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Forest Service and additional collectors from the state revenue services will be away on election duty.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has drawn the officers for duty in the five states in which Assembly elections were announced on Wednesday.
The state government, however, said administrative work will be affected, especially at a time the state too has crucial elections to civic bodies.
The state government has issued orders for 119 senior officers, who will first attend a training-cum-briefing session at Delhi next week, before being sent off on poll duty. As many as 57 of them are IAS officers, of the rank of secretary and below, 10 IPS, 17 IFS officers and 35 of the rank of additional collectors.
Apart from deputation on election duty in other states, a few senior officers from the revenue department have also been identified for appointment as observers in the civic elections to be held in February in the state.
The ECI draws senior officials from various states, excluding states in which the elections are being held, to be deputed as observers and other key posts responsible to ensure polls are conducted in a fair manner. Maharashtra has been one of the few states from which the maximum number of officers are drawn. Although the ECI had demanded for more officers, the Maharashtra government reportedly tried to keep the number as limited as possible so the administrative work does not get affected.
“It is true the administrative work is hit as key officials are away from office for weeks. As officials hold additional charges owing to manpower shortage, it becomes difficult to launch and implement new policies or programmes. Taking into account civic elections in the state and the crucial programmes being implemented, we have tried our best to depute officials in a way that the impact is minimised,” said Mukesh Khullar, principal secretary, general administration department.
Another official from Mantralaya said the government cannot refuse ECI orders for deputation of officials. “The ECI has the power to directly draw officials if the state government refuses to name them. The officials who do not report to work face action by ECI,” said an official, requesting anonymity.