'Government officials mum over harassment fear'

Kolkata, Oct 8 (IANS) State Election Commissioner (SEC) Mira Pande Tuesday said government officials often remain silent for fear of harassment.

"Many a time, officials do not want to get into trouble. For fear of harassment, they remain silent. But we should always remain positive and speak up," Pande said while participating in an interactive programme here.

The State Election Commission earlier moved the Calcutta High Court and the Supreme Court to obtain directives on holding the state panchayat polls with deployment of central security forces and in five stages.

The Mamata Banerjee regime wanted the polls to be staged in two stages sans the central forces, but had no other option following orders from the Supreme Court.

Pande conceded conducting the rural polls was a challenge but asserted she was not "too helpless".

She also said the SEC urged the state government to amend the existing state panchayat act so the number of constituencies in the three-tier panchayat elections remain constant and not go up with increase in the number of voters.

"There is clause in the panchayat election act of the state that constituencies will be dependent on the number of voters. Every five years, the constituencies are revised based on the number of voters, which increases constituencies exponentially," said Pande.

With over 58,000 constituencies and nearly three lakh nominations for the panchayat polls, Pande said the administrative task involved with the polls was "humungous" and getting adequate poll personnel was difficult.

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