Mamata government makes key poll appointments ahead of EC visit

KOLKATA: IAS officers Smaraki Mahapatra and Sanghamitra Ghosh were appointed as the joint chief electoral officer and additional chief electoral officer, respectively, by the West Bengal government on Tuesday, a day before the full bench of the Election Commission visits the state to review the poll preparedness, an official said.

The two officials were directed to take over the responsibilities immediately, he said.

“Both the officials have been asked to be present during the visit of the full bench of the EC,” the official said.

Ghosh is presently posted as the secretary of state Women and Child Welfare Department, while Mahapatra is the secretary in the state Finance Department with the additional responsibility of the director of West Bengal Highway Development Corporation.

The full bench, led by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, will arrive in the state on Wednesday night on a two-day visit.

On Thursday, they will be holding meetings with Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab and Additional Director-General (Law and Order) Gyanwant Singh, who is also the nodal officer of the state police.

The EC officials are also scheduled to meet representatives of political parties before meeting officials of the central and state regulatory agencies.

There will also be a review meeting with divisional commissioners, district election officers and senior police officers over the assembly elections in the state, sources in the state poll panel said.

The EC will also be meeting Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, Home Secretary HK Dwivedi, DGP Virendra and other senior officials, they said.

Meanwhile, the CEO on Tuesday held a meeting with Inspector-General of CRPF PK Singh and Inspector-General of BSF AK Singh over the availability of security forces during the assembly elections in the state, likely in April-May.