Congress moves EC for barring 'tainted' officials from Gujarat poll duty

 Three days ahead of the Gujarat first phase elections, the Congress party on Wednesday approached the Election Commission of India (EC) to bar some "tainted" officials, including two IPS officers allegedly involved in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, from conducting poll duty.

They said if the EC does not respond immediately, they will approach the court.

The All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary, Dipak Babaria, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) General Secretary, Iqbal Sheikh, and GPCC legal cell chairman, Yogesh Ravani, approached the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Gujarat, to complain against three tainted officials who have been assigned poll duties during the upcoming assembly elections.

Asking that they be removed from poll duty, Babaria alleged that an IAS officer Mahendra Patel, promoted as Collector and District Magistrate (DM) Surat, has a "dubious" role as an official. Patel had made personal comments against Congress President Sonia Gandhi on his Facebook page. Patel was directly connected with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and had also sought BJP ticket from Unjha seat for the assembly elections, he said. "We ask the EC to not allow him to oversee the election process and he must be removed immediately to ensure free and fair elections," said Babaria.

The GPCC has also sought that "tainted" official, Rajkumar Pandian (IPS), Range IG, Junagadh/Porbandar at present, also be removed from overseeing the poll process. Pandian was jailed in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case for several years. Earlier, he had been the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Porbandar. There is apprehension of "biased attitude and adverse effect" on the election process in the area.

They have sought that another "tainted" IPS official, Abhay Chudasam, posted as range IG, be removed from poll duty. Chudasam was also involved in the fake encounters of Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jahan. He was jailed for several years for the same. His engagement in the election process is likely to prejudice the entire poll process and so he should be transferred from the duty immediately, they petitioned.

CEO, Gujarat, B.B. Swain has accepted the contention by the GPCC and forwarded it to the EC Delhi. The GPCC spokesperson said that if the EC does not respond immediately, they will approach the judiciary.


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