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Bihar poll hero K J Rao to oversee Bengal elections

Our Political Bureau  |  New Delhi 

Election Commission (EC) observer K J Rao, who oversaw last year's Bihar Assembly elections, is among 19 observers deputed by the commission to manage the ongoing electoral roll revision in West Bengal ahead of state polls.
Rao, who invited the ire of the Lalu Prasad-led RJD for his fair and peaceful conduct of the Bihar elections "" which also saw the arrest of several top RJD leaders "" is expected to ruffle feathers in West Bengal as well, since an earlier EC report had said there were glaring irregularities in the election rolls in the state.
This development is not likely to mean peaceful times for the Congress which is in an unenviable position of having to fight against the Left in West Bengal and Kerala and depend on their support for the survival of the government at the Centre.
"It will be a tightrope walk for the Centre if Rao runs true to form," said a Congress leader.
EC sources said one observer had been appointed for each district. The observers would reach the district headquarters on January 9 and hold meetings with political parties, the sources said, adding that they would also undertake field visits from January 11 to 16. The observers would submit a report and brief the commission on January 18, the sources further said.
During their visit, the observers would check electoral rolls and the distribution of electoral photo identity cards. The commission had last week asked poll officials in the state to undertake a thorough exercise to ensure that the cards reached genuine voters.
In a communication to the state's chief electoral officer, the EC had said five of its teams that toured West Bengal recently found "glaring irregularities" in some distribution cases.
The BJP, which, along with the Janata Dal (U), had hailed Rao's handling of the Bihar polls as the "fairest elections ever held in India", was understandably happy with the of Rao's deputation to West Bengal.
"The Left regime in West Bengal has perfected scientific rigging by massive tampering of electoral rolls. Rao's no nonsense attitude may make a difference," said a BJP leader.

First Published: Fri, January 06 2006. 00:00 IST
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