If EC acts against you, we will see: Raj Thackeray asks school teachers to skip poll duty

More than 4,000 teachers from civic and other schools have been deployed for election duty in Maharashtra

Raj Thackeray (photo: IANS)
Raj Thackeray (photo: IANS)


Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray on Monday trained his guns on the Election Commission (EC) for compulsorily involving school teachers in poll-related duties. Sounding annoyed, the MNS chief demanded to know why the EC is involving school teachers in election work, as this would directly affect the education of children.

Thackeray was speaking to the media in Mumbai after meeting a delegation of teachers from Shardashram Vidyamandir School in Dadar, who complained that they were being forced into election duties against their will and threatened with 'disciplinary action' if they failed to comply.

"Don't they know that the elections are coming periodically? Have the elections been announced abruptly? Why can't they create a separate cadre for poll duties, and train and deploy them?" asked a visibly irked Thackeray.

On the apprehensions of the teachers that they would face disciplinary proceedings if they flouted the orders, Thackeray countered that "disciplinary action must be initiated against the EC instead of the teaching community", and directed the teachers "not to report for election duties or programmes anywhere".

"Every time elections are held, things are being done hastily. You people don't have to go for election duty. You just concentrate on the children. If they (EC) act against you, we will see," he said.

BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and other primary school teachers (classes 1-4) have been asked to report for duty for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

More than 4,000 teachers from only civic schools, besides other schools, have been deployed for election work, prompting Thackeray to ask: "Why is there so much work now? What does the Election Commission do for five years? Action should be taken against the EC for not doing its work for five years."

He queried why the EC does not have a proper system in place, and go after the teachers even after so many decades of elections in the country. "Should not you have your system ready for the polls? School teachers are supposed to impart knowledge to children. Have they been taken (into service) for election work?" asked Thackeray.

Maharashtra English School Trustees Association (MESTA) president Sanjayrao Tayade-Patil said it had become routine to "take away" government or government-aided school teachers for poll-related duties before and during Lok Sabha or Assembly elections.

"Most teachers are reluctant to report for such extra duty with limited compensation and a lot of responsibilities, which disturbs our academic schedules," said Tayade-Patil, welcoming Thackeray's remarks.

A government school headmaster, declining to be identified, said teachers have to go for a minimum four-day training session, followed by three to four days during the elections at all polling stations.

"At the end of this exercise, they are paid between Rs 800 and 1,200, plus a meal on the final voting day after they complete all their duties. Those teachers who don't attend are served notices, issued memos or other forms of punitive action is taken," said the headmaster.

Asked to react to Thackeray's challenge to the EC, the headmaster chuckled and asked whether "he will stand by any teacher" if he or she "dares" flout the EC directive.

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