Government employees who have been put on panchayat election duty, are seen these days thronging the election offices to get their duties cancelled. Some of them have genuine reasons for their grievance, others are hoping that the age-old excuses of poor health and family problems do the trick and manage to get them the certificate.
Even as the office of additional electoral officer Harbir Singh remained busy with adjusting the duties, some employee leaders held a demonstration outside his office on Friday under the banner of Punjab State Subordinate Services Federation. They alleged that women employees had been deputed far away from their places of residence. Widows, unmarried girls, sick and pregnant women had also been not spared, they said.
Election offices are flooded with exemption applications from reluctant staff. Some of these applications are endorsed by political leaders, making the job of administration even more difficult. Most of the applicants have cited health reasons while others have fallen back on excuses like wedding in the family or death of a relative. Sources, however, reveal that due to summer vacations, many people just want to go to tourist destinations.
The district electoral office had done over 300 mutual adjustments of polling staff till Friday and nearly 450 were pending consideration, said an official. "We need around 8,000 officials to conduct elections, besides keeping sufficient number of people as back-up. So it is not possible to excuse every one," he said.
Of the 1,372 panchayats in the district, 166 have been elected unopposed which has lessened the burden on the polling staff.Women employees even bring back their kids to the election office to authenticate the genuineness of their exemption pleas.