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Bengal observer from Bihar

The Election Commission of India has decided to send former Bihar chief electoral officer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh as the special state observer to Bengal.

The commission’s move followed a raft of complaints against poll officials and the chief electoral officer of Bengal. Assistant Bengal chief electoral officer Amit Roychowdhury said Rakesh, already on his way to the city from Bihar, is expected to assume charge on Thursday.

The 1983-batch IAS officer — currently the director-general of the Bihar Institute of Public Administration and Rural Development (Bipard) — would enjoy powers nearly equal to that of Bengal chief electoral officer Sunil Kumar Gupta.

“Rakesh is an efficient officer who had spearheaded the implementation of the Bihar Model of electioneering in the Bihar Assembly polls of 2010. He is the ideal man for handling difficult elections and is our choice for the Bengal challenge this time,” said a senior commission official from Delhi this evening.

According to him, Bengal is the only state so far in the Lok Sabha polls this year to get a special state observer.

Sources said the commission has “little” faith in the impartiality of poll officials and the office of the chief electoral officer.

“There are signs of a breakdown in co-ordination between offices of the chief secretary, the home secretary, the chief electoral officer and the districts administration. The commission needs a powerful nodal officer,” said a source.

The source said that the commission is “displeased” with the way the attacks on election officials in North 24-Parganas, Howrah and Malda took place and were dealt with.

“The commission has also viewed chief secretary Sanjay Mitra’s order for reinstatement of the officials removed from election duty after the poll process as a direct confrontation. Given the situation, the commission wanted to ensure greater command by sending Rakesh,” he said.

Rakesh had served as principal secretary of Governor Secretariat before being shifted to Bipard, a government-run organisation to impart training to employees.