State Secretariat wears deserted look with rural poll few days away

Bhubaneswar: With barley a few days left for panchayat polls in Odisha, the State Secretariat has worn a deserted look as ministers are busy in campaigning in their election constituencies for party candidates whereas most of the bureaucrats are stationed either outside the State to manage Assembly polls in other States or at different districts for rural poll duty.

After the panchayat poll schedule was announced by the State Election Commission (SEC), meetings, which were usually held under chairmanship of chief minister in presence of secretaries of different departments, are not being held at the State Secretariat. Therefore, work progress of different departments and expenditure details are not available for public to know.

While Joint Secretary and Additional Secretary of different departments have been assigned the General Observer and Expenditure Observer duties in different districts for the rural polls, around 40 bureaucrats are on a visit to poll-bound Goa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Uttarakhand to undertake Assembly elections.

Though no one stops to expedite the ongoing development projects in the State, ministers and secretaries present at the Secretariat are hesitant to take decisions on pretext of the model code of conduct for ensuing rural polls.

Sources said the power corridor in the Secretariat has become unpeopled allegedly for past ten days.

Also read: Panchayat elections: Poll code goes for a toss in Odisha

Commenting on the charges, former State Election Commissioner Debendra Mishra stated, “No poll commission has the power to halt the administrative work. Even if any such directive is given by the poll commission, it is not correct. Normal administrative work should not be stymied.”

Expressing similar views, Arbind Behera, a former bureaucrat, said, “Work on different projects has stopped causing worry among the common man. Officers get an excuse that due to the model code of conduct he/she will neither sign a file nor take a decision.”

Behera added in practicality a poll has nothing to do with the process for decision taking on a file.