Mumbai: A day after the parlimentary bypoll, Gondiya Collector Abhimanyu R. Kale was abruptly shunted from his post and kept on stand-by, an official statement said here on Tuesday evening. He has been replaced by Kadambari S. Balkawde, IAS officer of the 2010 batch, who was the Chief Executive Officer of Nagpur Zilla Parishad.
Balkawde will assume charge of her new posting immediately, while Kale has been kept on hold till further orders, said an announcement from Mantralaya.
She will oversee the re-polling ordered on Wednesday for 49 polling stations in the bye-elections to the Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency which was marred by major glitches in the EVM-VVPATs on Monday, leading to a furore among all the major political parties in the state. On the reasons for Kale’s sudden removal, official sources indicated that it was on the orders of the Election Commission, but declined to elaborate.
An unseemly controversy erupted on Monday when Kale contradicted the statements of a deputy election officer, Anant Walaskar, who told the media of cancellation of voting in at least 35 polling stations after complaints of malfunctioning EVMs were received from 64 locations. Stressing that “nobody has the authority to decide this except the EC and no such orders have been issued”, Kale had said around 156 EVMs were already replaced or spares deployed and the voting process had resumed.
The EVMs malfunctioned in polling booths at Khapa, Mandhal, Hingna and Kharbi in Bhandara-Gondiya. As per Walaskar’s statements on Monday, the EC on Tuesday ordered repolling in 49 polling stations spread across five Assembly segments that make up Bhandara-Gondiya parliamentary constituency.