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IAS officers condemn ‘attack’

Agartala, April 28: The sustained campaign launched by Opposition parties against Tripura’s chief electoral officer Ashutosh Jindal for alleged “largescale irregularities” in the election to the state’s two Lok Sabha seats on April 7 and 12 has evoked a strong reaction from IAS officers serving in the state.

After a local cable TV channel aired a video clip on April 15 — seven days after the election to the West Tripura parliamentary seat — showing a “nominated” voter assisting two old and visually challenged voters in pressing the EVM button, the Congress, the Trinamul Congress and the Tripura Gramin Vikash Congress (TGVC) questioned the procedure.

The incident allegedly took place at booth number 56 under Bishalgarh Assembly segment in West Tripura.

While Congress spokesman Ashok Sinha had told reporters that the Congress was contemplating boycotting the counting and launching a protest against “reduction of the election to a farce”, TGVC president and former MLA Subal Bhowmik threatened to call a bandh on the counting day on May 16.

Bhowmik, backed by his party workers and supporters, had also organised a protest in front of the election department office in Agartala town.

The state Trinamul chairman and former minister Ratan Chakraborty had also joined the chorus of statements, dubbing the election as “totally manipulated” by the CPM cadres and workers in connivance with the administration and chief electoral officer Ashutosh Jindal.

What, however, shocked the IAS officers association, Tripura chapter, was the sustained “personal vilification campaign” against Jindal, linking him with the ruling party and questioning his integrity.

The matter was discussed in a meeting of the IAS officers association last night, presided over by additional chief secretary K.V. Satyanarayan, and a statement was issued. The statement said they had taken “strong exception to the language used by a section of political parties” to launch a “wilful personal vilification campaign” against the chief electoral officer, adding that this is setting a “wrong precedent”.

In the statement, the association said there are “existing mechanisms” to address the grievances, if any, of the political parties.

CPM state secretary and central committee member Bijan Dhar condemned the “campaign of calumny” launched by the Opposition parties to “divert the attention of people from their pitiable performance and failure to influence the electors to support them”.