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Not to fight: Poll boss

Calcutta, July 22: Bengal’s new election commissioner S.R. Upadhyay said on his first day in office that he had not taken up the post with the “temperament to fight” and spoke of the importance of cooperation with the government.

Upadhyay, a retired WBCS officer handpicked by the state government to succeed retired IAS officer Mira Pande, said the government and the poll panel should be working together and conflicts between the two could be avoided if both had the “right intentions”.

“I have not come here with the temperament to fight,” he said this afternoon.

He did not rule out the possibility of withdrawing the high court case against the state government on the delay in conduct of polls to 17 civic bodies.

On her last day in office, Pande had expressed hope that the commission will “stay the course on all that has been initiated”, when asked about the ongoing court battle regarding the civic polls that the election commission wants to hold by August but which the government is reluctant to allow.

Pande had been a thorn in the government’s side and taken it to the Supreme Court last year over the conduct of panchayat elections.

Today, asked if he would have the ongoing case on civic elections withdrawn, Upadhyay said it was too early for him to comment.

“Cases have various stages. They cannot be withdrawn on a whimů. The matter is sub judice and I really should not be commenting,” he said.

Upadhyay, according to sources at Nabanna, was chosen to head the commission because the administration did not want “frequent friction” with the panel. “Going by his opening remarks, he is the right man for the job,” a Nabanna official said.

“I am not sure of what went on between the commission and the government before this,” Upadhyay said today. “However, the laws are very clear and the roles of the commission and the government are defined.”

He said: “The government has to hold elections. The commission has to conduct elections. Cooperation and coordination between the two is ideal.”