The relaxed charms and sunny weather of the Indian state of Goa lure people from around the world. Little wonder then, perhaps, that the country's male election officials are keen to put themselves forward for a little duty in the sun.
Such has been the number of applications from officers ahead of the election for the state's legislative assembly in March, that senior officials have decided to take drastic action: by sending only women.
A report in the Times of India claimed the decision had been taken because in previous polls, male election officers had spent too much time drinking and partying while on duty. It added that in some cases, the cost of the knees-up was being met by the candidates the election officials were meant to be monitoring.
Last night a senior election official, who asked not to be identified, confirmed that a 20-strong team of female officers was being sent to Goa, though he denied it was because male officers had been drinking on duty during previous polls. "The fact is that women have been deputed as general observers," the official said. "Goa is a tourist destination. We used to get lots of requests to be deputed there. By taking this decision to have only women, we have pre-empted [the situation]."
The official added: "There is no suggestion that the men would not have performed as well." The report said the team of women had been made up of officers from Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
It did not say why women were considered less likely to fall for Goa's extra-curricula activities than their male colleagues.
The official told the paper: "We took the decision to finalise an all-women team so that lobbying can be put to rest. It is unfortunate but male officers see a month-long stint as observer as a holiday in Goa. The commission is in no mood to oblige them."
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