It is imperative to evolve some basic guidelines for the conduct of West Bengal Assembly Election 2011. This guideline deals with the question of mobilization and appointment of polling personnel in connection with the ensuing Assembly Election 2011.
- As we all know that Birbhum district consists of 11 Assembly Constituencies.
- The district has 2018 Polling Stations with 609 Auxiliary Polling Stations. Thus total no. of polling personnel needed on the date of poll will be 10,508. This of course does not include the reserve polling party.
- As per ECI’s new circular, the Central Government Officer/staff will not be appointed as polling personnel and officer/staff of State Government/Government undertakings/State Government Public Sector Undertakings Local Bodies Undertakings/Local Bodies can only be utilized for formation of polling parties during the ensuing Assembly Election 2011.
- As per Commission’s guidelines, care should be taken to ensure not to post polling personnel in the respective Assembly Constituency in which either they reside or are posted.
- Care should also be taken while assigning polling personnel for respective poll duties. Seniority of officials should properly be taken care of, while giving elected related duty and it should be ensured that a senior official is not put on duty under an official who is quite junior to him/her. Presiding Officers and Polling Officers are to be classified on the basis of scale of pay and their post and rank. In determining the rank and status of officials drawn from different pools with different pay scales, the relative position of the official in his cadre/organisation ought to be taken into account and not merely the pay scale.
- We should ensure proper servicing of the appointment letters with due service returns and action should be immediately started against absenting personnel as per ECI guidelines.
- The Commission has further instructed to keep each batch of polling personnel during training class to a maximum of 100 in numbers. It is also directed that this time also all polling personnel will be issued voter identity cards. Needless to mention, the issuance and receipt of Postal Ballot to the polling personnel shall be completed during the last phase of training programme as per ECI guidelines.
- Quiz or Multiple Choice Questions should be administered at the end of the training programme for all categories.
- We should also ensure that the remuneration of polling personnel is paid online through their respective bank accounts as already decided. Efforts should be made to maximise the coverage under the proposed system.
- ECI has further issued direction for a three stage randomization of polling personnel. The first stage randomization can be done in the absence of Observer when the polling personnel will be issued appointment letter to attend the training classes without forming the polling party. The 2nd stage randomization i.e. formation of polling party can only be done in presence of Observer. The 3rd stage randomization i.e. tagging of polling parties with different polling stations shall be done in presence of Observer just before the dispatch of polling party from the distribution centres.
- Needless to mention that we have to be utmost cautious in dealing with the exemption prayers received from different corners as the Central Govt. office/Central Govt. undertakings officers and staff have been kept out of polling personnel data base for their posting as the Micro Observers. However, since we have a surplus pool of central govt employees, we can also think of posting these surplus officers as presiding officers after a keeping a cushion for the purpose stipulated by ECI. Exemption quota for the recognised political parties and candidates, as decided in the meeting with the political parties, should be strictly adhered to.
- We also need to form Medical Boards to refer the prayers of polling personnel thus appointed, who seek exemption on medical ground to the medical board. Such Medical Boards should be formed in all the three sub-divisional hospitals. A prayer to this effect should immediately be sent to CMOH, Birbhum. The Medical Boards, so formed, should treat exemption prayers on medical grounds with due care so as to disallow any request made on flimsy grounds.
- Since we are going for poll in the last week of April 2011, we need to start their training programme from 2nd week of March onwards.
- We also need to coordinate with the ROs for smooth conduct of training programmes. The basic amenities for the trainers and trainees at the training venues should be duly taken care of.
- The PP Cell, thus formed at district level, not only needs to coordinate with the Statutory, Training, Postal Ballot, Transport & Infrastructure cells at the district level, but also with the similar cells formed at the level of SDOs.
- The same Cell in coordination with the Staffing Cell will also render the services with reference to appointment of counting personnel, DCRC staff as well as other officers/staff needed at DCRC, Strong Room and Counting venues.
- Also, the PP Cell should be very careful with the reserve polling personnel at the Dispersal Centre. There should be separate place earmarked for them with requisite amenities. There should be an officer to ensure that attendance at the earmarked place rather than allowing them to loiter around the DC for tea, snacks or any other reason. Absence of reserve PP from the earmarked space often results in a lot of inconvenience while forming polling parties in case of absence of the appointed polling personnel.
The District Polling Personnel Cell with is comprised of the following officers:
ADMN-in-charge = Shri Amitava Sengupta, WBCS (Exe) ADM (General)
Officer-in-charge = 1. Shri Santosh Kr. Paul, WBCS (Exe), Sr. D.C.
2. Shri T.K. Sarkar, D.I.O., NIC
3. Shri Bhabani Prosad Dey, WBCS (Exe), DM&DC, Birbhum
4. Shri S. Bhattacharya, D.I.A., NIC
The District Cell will not only perform the functions mentioned above, but will also keep constant liaison with the office of the CEO,
With best wishes,
Dr. Saumitra Mohan, IAS.