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Poll call stumps party workers

The Ranchi district election office has inadvertently assigned duty to a section of teaching and non-teaching college employees who swear by their political affiliations. Now, the poll mission has landed these 20-odd officials in a dilemma and prompted the returning officer to mull exemptions.

According to a Ranchi University (RU) employee, the election office has drawn up the debatable list from Doranda College, Ranchi College, Marwari College and Suraj Singh Memorial College in the capital, JN College in Dhurwa and Karam Chand Bhagat College in Bedo.

“These teaching and non-teaching staff have been appointed presiding officers and magistrates to ensure free and fair elections. But, they are also active political workers. The assignment has put them in a fix and they have approached us (the varsity) for solution,” the RU employee said.

Another university official pointed out that the duty roster included Ranchi College Grade-III employee Manoj Yadav who is an RJD spokesperson and superintendent of RU’s multipurpose examination hall Ashok Kumar, also JMM’s district president.

Similarly, Ashok Nag — a professor of Botany at Ranchi College and the election agent of Sudesh Mahto, Ajsu’s nominee from Ranchi parliamentary seat — is among those assigned poll duty.

“The district election office has appointed me a magistrate. I received the letter yesterday (Thursday) and am in trouble because I am not just an election agent, but also the general secretary of the party. I have decided not to give a representation to the district election officer since I am not in a position to do justice to a poll job,” Nag said.

An employee at the district election office admitted the predicament, but said the mistake was not on their part. “The university sought exemption of 30 officials, including the vice chancellor, the pro-vice chancellor and a few senior officials. Those who have been issued appointment letters were not on that varsity list,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

Returning officer and deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey conceded there was a problem, but also suggested a quick fix. “We can exempt college employees from election duty if they bring letters from their respective parliamentary candidates, stating that their presence as party member/worker is essential during the election. Else, those appointed will have to follow their duty roster,” Choubey said.