Fear of election duty makes Rajasthan officials ill | india | Hindustan Times
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Fear of election duty makes Rajasthan officials ill

As the assembly polls draw nearer, Govt officials are trying all sorts of excuses to escape election duty, reports Siddhartha S Bose.

india Updated: Nov 19, 2003 12:10 IST

Government officials eager to jump election duty are getting increasingly imaginative as the dates for election come nearer. People are suddenly falling ill and misfortunes never had a more opportune moment, but now, as tailor-made reasons in writing are piling on the district administration's table.

Persistence with the applicants reveals a more factual reason for the postponement. Applicants are suddenly waking up to the reality of an indispensable peon or even a beautiful wife. Duty officials are beginning to come up with all sorts of complaints, chest pains, heart problem, hypertension or equation with near and dear ones, a la "father is ill. Cant leave him alone".

In one case, the husband of a duty officer won't let his wife join. When nothing would move the department, he came up with the truth. "He had said that his wife is very beautiful and that she would be a distraction to all. Hence the urgency," the official who was instrumental in getting her duty cancelled, said.

The district administrative officials are pestered by the requests for taking officers off duty. "I have been receiving some 10 calls in an hour everyday. Add the letters in writing I receive everyday," an administrative official said. The senior officials get direct calls from bosses. Election officials place the number of employees put on election duty at over 30,000. The duty is for four days and begins on December 1. With time getting dearer urgency is apparent.

When this senior Rajasthan Administrative Services official walked into the chamber of the election official, he had only one concern.

"My personal secretary has a peon who has been put on election duty. Please get him off the job," the bureaucrat told the election officer. A quizzed election officer screened the application. The reason mentioned was different. He told the bureaucrat that it was highly improbable. "But why are you worried. Let the secretary suffer?" To this an emotionally charged applicant said, "If my secretary suffers, my work suffers."

The excuses don't end here. A government teacher got his election duty cancelled by presenting an invitation for marriage of his relative, which was never on the cards.