The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Bogus’ taste for Rao

Krishnagar, Jan. 9: A tall man briskly marches to a brick-walled but thatched house.

As the door opens, he introduces himself as K.J. Rao, the Election Commission’s adviser, and looks for Dulal Pramanik and his wife Mita.

Bani Sarkar, the 45-year-old housewife who opens the door, tells Rao that the Pramaniks sold their house and moved many years ago.

Not surprised, Rao smiles towards the official accompanying him.

This is Madhya Ghateshwar village in the Dhubulia area of Nadia, 125 km from Calcutta.

“What’s going on' I find the (Opposition’s) allegations are not baseless,” Rao asks Ajay Sannamat, subdivisional officer (headquarters).

He takes out a pen and underlines the two names, asking Sannamat to strike them off.

Armed with a list of bogus voters submitted by the Opposition Congress and Trinamul Congress earlier in the day, Rao enquires from villagers about others named in the complaints.

Standing in the village square, Rao, who has become something of a celebrity after leading the poll arrangements in Bihar, takes out from the voter list about a dozen names.

Narendranath Poddar was among the bogus voters, looking for whom Rao walked around 3 km to reach his home where he learnt the man died five years ago.

At the end of the day, around 7 pm, Rao visits four villages where he orders the names of at least 40 bogus voters to be struck off the rolls.

By then district magistrate Rajesh Pandey has arrived. Rao asks him and the SDO to go to villages and delete names of bogus voters exactly the way he is doing.

In Deypara village, Rao loses his cool when the block development officer (BDO), Ashutosh Biswas, can’t tell him where the polling station is.

“You don’t have any idea about the places in your jurisdiction! At least you should be able to take us to the places we want to go to. DM saab, do something immediately,” he says as Pandey quickly takes the BDO aside.

Rao today discarded his elaborate security and moved around the villages in a white Ambassador with only a police jeep, with four constables, as the pilot vehicle.

He was supposed to start work from tomorrow, but around 3.30 pm suddenly decided to visit some of the areas from where complaints had come in.

“I want to finish my work before one week. I have got enough inputs from all political parties,” he told officials.

The CPM was the first to meet Rao around 11 am and complained about the “highhandedness of election observers” in the previous polls.

“We told him that an observer, Aniruddha Mukherjee, was assaulted during the 2004 Lok Sabha polls and for that he himself was responsible. He had incited CPM activists,” said a CPM leader.

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