Are you going to conduct polls or shall we hold it, EC had issued ultimatum to Telangana officials

CS, DGP faced the wrath of ECI during the meeting last week

October 11, 2023 09:48 pm | Updated October 12, 2023 04:39 pm IST - HYDERABAD

“Are you going to conduct Assembly elections or shall we hold it ourselves,” was the stern message issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI) team, led by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, during its tour of Telangana in the first week of October to review poll preparedness.

Since that interaction with Chief Secretary A. Santhi Kumar, DGP Anjani Kumar and top bureaucrats of the State, it became crystal clear for the IAS and IPS officers in Telangana that serious trouble was about to brew ahead of the State Assembly elections.

As hinted, the ECI cracked the whip on Wednesday night taking the Telangana government by surprise transferring 13 IPS officers and Collectors of four districts. The Excise Commissioner, Transport Commissioner and Commercial Taxes Commissioner too faced the wrath of the Election Commission.

Top government sources told The Hindu that EC team was in real ‘foul mood’ at the state of affairs in the State. It appears that the Commission was completely disappointed with what it perceived blatant misuse of authority by the State Government in posting conferred IAS and non-cadre officers as SPs.

Director-General of Police Anjani Kumar is said to have been picked up for “special treatment”. “Don’t you have sufficient number of direct recruited IPS officers in Telangana. Why are nine non-cadre officers posted as Superintendents of police,” is how the EC officials confronted the DGP. “It looks like these officers have been posted only to help the ruling party,” was another pungent comment directed at the State police.

Turning their ire on the bureaucracy, the EC officials, according to highly placed sources, remarked that creation of new districts has facilitated one Collector to be transferred to another district, which formed part of the original district. Some officers were accused of being close to local political leaders and toeing their line.

The EC officials also were not too pleased with the functioning of Excise department, it was pointed out. A senior IAS officer, who attended the meeting of EC earlier this month, said the Commission had remarked that southern States are known for spending money and distributing liquor like water. “They had mentioned how money and liquor flowed in Karnataka Assembly elections,” the officer noted.

A surprise transfer was that of in-charge Commissioner of Commercial Taxes T.K. Sreedevi. She had taken charge as the Commissioner only on September 27. Earlier, incumbent Neetu Prasad was transferred recently and in view of the elections, Ms. Sreedevi was posted.

“The manner in which the ECI team held the review meeting with the bureaucrats and police officials, it was obvious that they had come with pre-disposed mind,” another bureaucrat, wishing anonymity, remarked.

A top source in the government confirmed that they had expected the ECI to undertake large-scale transfer of police officers, including the DGP. “It is surprising that the DGP has been spared, but some officers like the Hyderabad and Warangal Police Commissioners of police have been transferred,” a top officials said.

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