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Keep Bihar electoral officer away from poll duty: opposition

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Patna, Aug 9 (IANS) Bihar's opposition leaders met Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi, who is on a two-day visit, and demanded that the state's Chief Electoral Officer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh and other officials be kept away in the upcoming assembly polls, an official said Monday.

Apart from Rakesh, the parties wanted that block development officers (BDO), circle officers (CO), Special Auxiliary Police personnel and employees appointed on contract not be put on duty as they feared the elections would not be free and fair under their authority, said an official present at the meeting Sunday.        
An Election Commission team headed by Quraishi began a two-day Bihar visit Sunday to oversee preparations for the assembly polls likely to be held October-November.        
In a meeting with the team, representatives of all political parties requested that central paramilitary forces be deployed at all polling booths and pressed for a ban musclemen and convicts casting votes.        
Quraishi assured the opposition and the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) representatives of conducting free and fair polls.        
Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal and Lok Janshakti Party demanded the removal of Magadh Divisional Commissioner K.P. Ramiah from his post while Congress leaders told the team that many junior officers were promoted as BDOs and COs to work as assistant returning officers and influence the polls.         
"This should be stopped by the Election Commission," a Congress leader said.        
The Election Commission team will hold discussions with divisional commissioners, district magistrates and superintendents of police of all districts Monday on ensuring peaceful polling. Talks will also be held with the state chief secretary and the director general of police.        
Official sources said the poll panel will announce election dates next week after reviewing poll preparedness.        

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