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I am extremely neutral, says Madurai Collector
U Sagayam said he was just enforcing the Election Commission orders and had nothing against Alagiri.
Madurai: In line of fire of Union minister M K Alagiri for his alleged remarks against the DMK, Madurai District Collector U Sagayam on Thursday said he was "extremely neutral" and was just enforcing the orders of the Election Commission. "I am extremely neutral. I don't take sides and, moreover, government servants cannot take stand... I am committed and determined to enforce the instructions of the Election Commission of India," he said.
Sagayam, against whom Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister and DMK s South Zone Organising Secretary Alagiri has launched a frontal attack, was brought to Madurai as Collector by the Election Commission last month after the schedule for the Assembly election was announced. "The task is really massive... I am an honest and committed public servant. I will strictly enforce the instructions of the Election Commission," he told PTI at his Camp Office here.
48-year-old Sagayam, the first IAS officer in Tamil Nadu to make his assets public when he was Namkkal Collector in 2009, has launched a campaign in Madurai and near-by areas against bribe for votes and has been interacting with college students to create awareness among them. With regard to Alagiri planning to file a case against him for "forcing" election officials to give complaints against him, the IAS officer suggested that such things are common in public life as it is "part of the game."
"As a duty conscious and committed government servant, I think this is part of the game and I should be prepared (to fight) as a committed officer I will continue my work and take everything as part of my service," he said. He was reacting to a volley of questions on Alagiri's assertion yesterday that he will file cases against him and Madurai Rural SP Asra Garg for "forcing" to file election officials to register complaints against him.
Ever since he assumed charge on March 24, Sagayam has been touring the entire district asking authorities to check whether voters are being bribed. Police and EC officials have seized several lakhs in cash from the city. The DMK and Alagiri have been alleging that the Election Commission was acting "tough" against the party and its candidate, while favouring the Opposition AIADMK.
Alagiri had attacked the Election Commission on Wednesday accusing him of working against the DMK and said former Madurai RDO S Suhumaran and Melur tahsildar M Kalimuthu in their complaints to the Election Commission had specified that they had been asked by the collector and the SP to file cases against him. However, the EC had not taken any cognizance and hence he had no option but to go to court, Alagiri had said on Wednesday.
Sagayam also said he never said a change of government should come through this election and that he was campaigning only for bringing in "electoral integrity."
"As the District Election Officer, my responsibility is to create awareness of the importance of participation in electoral process for a stronger democracy. So, I targeted the student community since I thought they are the future," he said. My aim was to ensure that voters are not bribed and maintained that his campaign among students has "received tremendous response" from them, he added.
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