Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday criticised state Election Commission officials, who have raised a reimbursement claim of Rs 16.86 crore for expenses incurred during the state Assembly elections in February this year, reported PTI. “I do not like to criticise constitutional authorities, but when they attain absolute power, they can become more corrupt than politicians,” Parrikar said while addressing an event organised by the state-run Economic Development Corporation.

The chief minister alleged that state EC officials had hired vehicles in addition to several cars they had already roped in from various departments for the election duty. “For two-and-a-half months the Election Commission has given a bill of Rs 16.80 crore,” Parrikar said. “They were going around in the vehicles,”

On the delay in holding election in some panchayat wards following a court order, Parrikar asked, “Who should be held responsible for the delay in the election in these wards?” He accused the election commission of having “no accountability” in the state, the news agency reported.

Drawing parallels with criticism targeting politicians, Parrikar said political leaders were “easy targets” as they have to face an election every five years. The former Defence Minister suggested that constitutional authorities be placed under the same kind of scrutiny.

Parrikar was pulled up by the Election Commission in February with a notice about his purported remarks, during his tenure at Defence Minister, encouraging voters to accept bribes to cast votes during the state election. He had denied making the remarks, claiming his speech was incorrectly translated. However, this claim was rejected by the poll body who let him off with a warning.