Returning Officer shunted out after controversial order on poll symbol
Hyderabad: The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday shunted out the Returning Officer of Munugode Assembly constituency in Telangana after he withdrew the ‘road roller’ symbol allotted to a candidate for November 3 by-election.
Within hours after seeking an explanation from Janardhan Rao for withdrawing an earlier order, the poll panel transferred him and appointed another officer Rohit Singh as the Returning Officer (RO).
The action came after a complaint by Yuga Thulasi Party whose candidate K. Shiva Kumar was allotted ‘road roller’ from free symbols by the RO on October 17. However, the RO later replaced it with the ‘Baby walker’ symbol without even informing the candidate.
The RO apparently acted after a request from the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) that ‘road roller’ be dropped from the list of free symbols as it looks similar to its election symbol of ‘car’.
The EC took strong exception to the action of RO, who reversed the earlier order allotting ‘road roller’ symbol to Shiv Kumar.
The candidate alleged that the returning officer in conspiracy with TRS had cancelled the already allotted symbol to him
He complained to EC that the RO changed his decision without giving any notice to him and allotted another free symbol which was not among the preferences shown by him in his nomination papers.
The EC noted that the RO took the decision took the without the knowledge of or consultation with the observers
Janardhan Rao was directed to explain the circumstances under which he changed his by using non-existent powers
The EC issued an order that the ‘road roller’ symbol should be allotted to Shiv Kumar as decided earlier.
Following this direction, the poll authorities stopped printing of ballot papers.
The Chief Electoral Officer ordered reprinting ballot papers with the ‘road roller’ symbol for the Yuga Thulasi party candidate Shiva Kumar.
The EC’s decision has come under flak from the TRS. The party alleged that this was done due to pressure from the BJP.
TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao said this shows how BJP is misusing the Constitutional bodies.