His services were extended by 6 months from 21 June to 21 December 2020. However, until now he continues to function as the Deputy Election Commissioner. Political experts and analysts say in anonymity and confidence that he is the BJP led Union government’s `veritable marksman and point man for 2021 Bengal polls’.
Originally he was meant for Bihar where the JDU-BJP combine won in November 2019 and now he is in Bengal. Are his services, once again extended, quite unnoticed?
He is Mr. Sudeep Jain, the Dy. Election Commissioner who holds all keys to a successful free and fair Bengal polls. Easily, he may be judged as the Narendra Modi government’s key `point man’ deputed to douse the flames of a violence ridden Bengal poll and ensure proper citizen rights and duties.
Jain was a huge success in Bihar polls without a credible complaint being lodged against the Election Commission. RJD, that lost the elections to the JDU-BJP led NDA combine, however, complained of EVM tampering, although quite unfounded.
A 1994 batch Tamil Nadu cadre, Jain has already become proactive in Bengal where polls are just three to four months away. A full bench of the Election Commission is slated to visit the state between 18th and 21st January to oversee poll preparations.
An announcement to Bengal polls are also expected soon.
Jain is an EVM expert and is heading the Commission’s EVM department. Besides, EVM, Jain is also controlling booth arrangements. Bengal has around 78,000 polling booths. Jain has increased it by 28,000 to 1.06 lakh booths.
After BJP’s huge success in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal was airing her views against EVMs, as she felt the BJP won the elections by tampering EVMs. She sought introduction of the archaic ballot system.
Summarily, the Election Commission rejected her demand. She received support from the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Agarwal and few other non BJP non NDA chief ministers.
Mamata became silent after she won the 3 assembly by-polls just after the Lok Sabha polls in the state in Kharagpur Sadar, Karimpur and Kaliaganj in Nadia district. BJP took her place and made similar complaints of tampering and pre-programming of EVMs.
As Jain has raised the number of polling it is still not clear how many third generation EVMs, Mark 3 or M3 will be required for the upcoming 2021 assembly polls.
BJP won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats with 40 per cent votes. TMC settled for 22 with 45 per cent votes from the earlier 34 seats it won in 2014.
There are speculations that 7-phase polls will be held in Bengal in March / April 2021. The term of present West Bengal Assembly ends on 31st May 2021. Therefore, polls have to be completed by 15th May for the new government.
School board and secondary examinations are tipped for May and June. The Election Commission would like to complete the poll process by that time.
Jain has started showing his brawn and has issued warnings of strong action against state poll officials found guilty of dereliction of duty and partial behaviour. He had held a number of meetings with respective police and administrative authorities of the state as has given them a piece of his mind.
Jain had warned of criminal operatives getting involved in polls from jails and police lock-ups. Obviously, it is a hint of criminalization of poll and politics in Bengal. Although wholly un-similar, his observation, somewhat, resonates what the BJP President J P Nadda had pointed out at a recent road show in East Burdwan.
At the moment Jain looks tough, although it might seem a little harder than needed.
Interestingly, before Jain started his visits to Bengal last month, the Mamata administration had transferred 79 police officials at one go. A number of IAS officers are also on the block. Bengal is short of IAS officers.
While the requirement is around 320, at present Bengal administration is working with 290-odd officers. The Union government recently decided to release a few officers for Bengal.
Whatever, all eyes are now on Sudeep Jain, although he has completed his six months extended tenure on 21 December 2020, but continues to operate as strong and tidily as possible.
This news article is prepared or accomplished by Nirmalya Mukherjee in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of kolkatatoday.com