New Delhi: Wary of impact of power cuts in a poll season, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh has cracked the whip against erring energy department officials, with Chief Minister Kamal Nath claiming that some of them were purposely sabotaging power supply.
As per state Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja, 492 energy department officials were suspended or sacked in the last couple of days.
Lok Sabha elections will be held in the state in four phases from April 29.
"It is a conspiracy," Nath told reporters here Wednesday when asked about erratic power supply.
"We have taken action against many such people. Some of them are cutting power supply lines. Some are causing short circuits to create a false atmosphere of power crisis," he alleged.
While power minister Priyavrat Singh could not be contacted, Saluja said that on Nath's directions, "492 staffers have been sacked or suspended".
"Nath is very serious about power cuts as they cause a great deal of inconvenience to people during the hot and humid summer," the Congress spokesperson said.
The chief minister had sought a status report on availability of power, distribution and the power cuts in the last one month from the energy minister and senior officials last month, Saluja said.
"Nath has sought to know whether power cuts were result of a conspiracy when the state is power surplus," he said.
Finance Minister Tarun Bhanot had said in his home district of Jabalpur last week that some personnel of power distribution companies were working against the Congress and they would be dealt with after the elections.
The crackdown, however, has not gone down well with the staff of power distribution firms. "Are they going to win the election by suspending us," said one angry employee.
In 2003, after the Congress got a drubbing in Assembly elections, outgoing chief minister Digvijaya Singh had famously said that power shortage gave "a shock" to the party.
The Congress, which has formed government in the state after 15 years, is therefore wary of power cuts, especially in a poll season.