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Confident of organising free and fair polls: Chawla

Source: PTI
March 12, 2009 16:01 IST
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The Election Commission on Thursday expressed confidence on organising "free, fair and transparent" Lok Sabha elections, which is scheduled between April 16 and May 13.

"We aim for free, fair and transparent elections in the country, let alone a state; there is no doubt about it," Chief Election Commissioner designate Navin Chawla, who is in Chennai to hold review meeting with the state's chief electoral officer, told media persons.

Chawla was answering a query on reported comments of Andhra Pradesh director general of police praising the ruling Congress in that state, and whether free and fair elections were possible there under such circumstances.

Chawla assured that the EC was taking all steps to ensure free and fair elections such as video recording of required proceedings and deploying officials to monitor them.

"In the recent six state assembly elections, we found surrogate candidates contesting as independents, using all the facilities given by the EC in good faith," he said, adding that strict action would be taken against such persons in the upcoming elections.

With a view to preventing excess use of money, Chawla said officials from the income- tax department will be posted on poll duty who will report to the EC.

Highlighting the EC's efforts in this regard, Chawla recalled the recovery of Rs 40 crore in cash and other 'freebies' during the Karnataka assembly elections, which were allegedly meant for voters.

On the issue of Andhra Pradesh DGP allegedly praising the ruling Congress, Chawla said he would look into the matter during his review meeting in Hyderabad scheduled later on Thursday.

Responding to a query, he said the model code of conduct was in place and the EC had circulated a list of "Dos and Donts" to the respective state governments.

Quoting his meeting with the chief electoral officers of the state, Chawla said issuing of 97 per cent of Electoral Photo Identity Cards was over in Tamil Nadu and described it as "highest percentage in India by all standards." The rest would be issued in the next couple of weeks, he added.

Chawla is said to have instructed the CEO to give priority to the "landless poor" as well as the "urban poor" in this regard, "since they may not have other forms of identity- proof."

 "Multiple forms of identification," could be furnished by voters who did not get their EPIC, Chawla said. Poll officers and poll staff have been instructed to strictly register all forms of identity proof. Chawla also warned against "defacement of public property" in the form of posters or graffiti.

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