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Poll observer to tour districts

Calcutta, April 19: Bengal’s special observer for the Lok Sabha polls, Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, will tomorrow begin touring the districts described as “potentially troublesome” by the Election Commission, in an attempt to ensure that the poll panel’s instructions on law and order are followed ahead of elections there.

The officer will begin with Murshidabad tomorrow, and Malda on Monday. He is expected to conduct a recce of the two constituencies, which will vote on April 24.

Election Commission sources said that one of the primary responsibilities of Rakesh, who has described himself as the “eyes and ears of the commission”, was touring the districts extensively and conducting ground-level meetings with the administrations to ensure free, fair and peaceful polls.

“The two districts he would visit first are potentially troublesome and have a history of poll-related violence. Rakesh is going to try and ensure a best possible law-and-order situation, besides minimising the influence of the ruling establishment,” a commission source said this evening, adding that there had been several complaints of inaction and bias against the administrative officials of the two districts.

During the day, Rakesh conducted several meetings with the administrations of North and South Dinajpur, Malda and Murshidabad and Burdwan, Birbhum, Howrah and Hooghly, which go to polls on April 30.

At the meetings, Rakesh was said to have instructed the districts to ensure proper action on complaints and to ensure security of poll officials.

“I’ve been doing my job. Tomorrow, I will start touring the districts. I have been reporting to the Nirvachan Sadan daily,” Rakesh said.