Fifty-eight per cent of the officials, who will be assigned with responsibility to ensure free-and-fair polling during the upcoming Madhya Pradesh assembly, has failed to secure qualifying marks in the written test conducted by the Election Commission, according to Indian Express report. 567 out of 1,000-odd officials who will be involved in the election process, took the test. However, only 244 managed to score more than 70 per cent marks- which was set as the qualifying threshold, the IE report says. The candidates, who have failed in the test, belong to the ranks of of deputy collector, sub-divisional officer and tehsildar.
However, the officers, who have failed, will get a second chance, Chief Electoral Officer V L Kantha Rao was quoted as saying by IE. The has also sent a warning that officials could be penalised for failing the test. Out of the officials who gave the test, a few were on the poll duty in the last assembly elections and by-elections. Most of the officials did not have exposure to the VVPATs.
Congress has demanded strict action against those who have failed in the test. “If they could not answer simple questions how they are running the government. They have no right to remain in government service,” Congress leader Narendra Saluja was quoted as saying by IE.
In june, the Election Commission had rejected Congress’ allegations of large-scale discrepancies in the voters’ list of Madhya Pradesh, saying field verification showed that such charges were not borne out. In a letter to AICC, the poll body said, “The allegations of large-scale entries of multiple voters in these assembly constituencies is not borne out”. It said image repetition found was “not related to multiple entries”.
In August, senior Congress leader Kamal Nath has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a direction from the apex court to the Election Commission to randomly verify VVPAT slips with EVM votes at 10 per cent of polling stations in every constituency.