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Election duty officials made to starve

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UNNECESSARY HARDSHIP: Anxious polling officers at Krishnarajapuram Vidya Mandira in Bangalore on Wednesday where they were called for election duty training.
UNNECESSARY HARDSHIP: Anxious polling officers at Krishnarajapuram Vidya Mandira in Bangalore on Wednesday where they were called for election duty training.

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: For hundreds of government and public sector employees, many with diabetes and hypertension, it was an unforgettable day for the wrong reasons. Tired and frustrated over being denied food, these employees on election duty forced an end to their ordeal by staging a protest where they were corralled on Wednesday.

Long after lunch hour was over, frustration caught up with these 1,000 or so employees who had come for a training programme on election-related duties and their vociferous demonstration around 4 p.m. finally yielded result.

These officials from various State and Union Government departments along with those from public sector banks and insurance companies and public sector undertakings had assembled at Vidya Mandir on the Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) premises.

From outside

“Most of us, including some from Tumkur and Sira, had left home 7 a.m. to reach the venue by 9.30 a.m. to participate in the training session, which involved formation of groups to oversee each polling booth in K.R. Puram constituency,” a Development Officer of the Oriental Insurance Corporation, who chose to remain anonymous, told The Hindu.

“While we could not go out of the venue for lunch, the officials could not arrange it in time, which forced us to protest.

Many of us have hypertension and diabetes and cannot starve,” he said.

Wednesday’s exercise was to group the officials into a team comprising the presiding officer and returning officers to oversee election process in each polling booth. The revenue officials also had to deal with the absentees, who had to be substituted. Confusion reigned for some time.

“The whole exercise today was to bring together the team members and brief them about the task. While many did not turn up at the venue, the revenue officials in charge of elections mishandled the situation, leading to chaos,” said a second division assistant from the Education Department, who has been deployed for poll-related duties for the first time.

Contrast

As if to justify their woes, the same programme being held for Mahadevapura Assembly Constituency in the same building went off smoothly, as most officials on poll duty had left the venue by 4.30 p.m.

When contacted, BBMP Special Commissioner and District Election Commissioner B.S. Ramprasad told The Hindu that he was not aware of the fiasco. “If such a thing had happened, I regret the same and will direct all returning officers not allow a repetition.”

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