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EC tells Digvijay to follow orders

New Delhi, March 17: Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh may have to relent on the Election Commission order and initiate disciplinary action against some of his “errant” officials named in connection with the preparation of defective electoral rolls.

But at the same time, he brushed aside the latest missive from the Centre on the Bhojshala controversy.

Digvijay, in the national capital today to explain his case against the suspension of Rewa, Shahdol and Khargone district collectors and deputy collectors as ordered by the commission, met chief election commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh and the two election commissioners.

According to official sources in the commission, Lyngdoh told Digvijay he must comply with the commission’s directive to the state to suspend the senior poll officials and order an inquiry into the conduct of its officials on electoral-roll duty in five other districts.

After the meeting, Digvijay said his government did not want to adopt a “confrontationist” posture with the commission. He said he asked the commission to file a chargesheet against the officials concerned to help him initiate disciplinary action.

Lyngdoh, however, is said to have told Digvijay to get a copy of the charges against the officials from the state chief electoral officer and proceed against them as directed earlier.

The chief election commissioner is also believed to have disagreed with Digvijay’s contention that the commission had directed disciplinary action without proper inquiry. The order was based on the state chief electoral officer’s report, Lyngdoh reportedly said, which had found “unacceptable” levels of defects in the draft electoral rolls prepared by the officials concerned at the district level.

The chief minister also found himself in a politically tight spot today over the Bhojshala controversy.

In a second letter to the state government, sent on March 14, the Union culture ministry asked Digvijay to ensure that Hindus were allowed to offer puja at Bhojshala for a full day every Tuesday.

Digvijay, however, said the Centre had only “requested” or “suggested” to the state government to allow puja every Tuesday. It was not an order, he clarified.

Depending on the law and order situation, the state government would allow puja by Hindus every Tuesday, Digvijay said.

The culture ministry’s letter followed a compromise solution suggested by Union culture minister Jagmohan in his letter to Digvijay last month. Jagmohan had suggested that Hindus be allowed to perform puja at the Saraswati shrine for a full day every Tuesday while Muslims could offer namaz every Friday at the adjoining Kamaal Maula mosque.

With the Assembly elections not far away, Digvijay has been keen to strike a compromise over the Bhojshala controversy to take the steam out of a strident Sangh parivar.

But his “soft Hindutva” line has not gone down too well with the Congress high command. The party high command is understood to have cautioned him against sending the wrong signals about the Congress’ secular ideology.

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