Millennium Post (Kolkata)

EC directs state to ensure free, transparen­t & inducement-free Lok Sabha elections


Chief Election Commission­er (CEC) Rajiv Kumar directed the state administra­tion, including the district magistrate­s and police top brass, to ensure free, transparen­t and inducement-free elections while making it clear that if any concerned official fails to comply with the instructio­ns, the Election Commission of India (ECI) will enforce it.

“Several political parties have complained of potential bias within the state bureaucrac­y, particular­ly at lower levels. Any form of partisan behaviour on the part of the bureaucrac­y will not be accepted. We have directed the district administra­tion to ensure a level playing field for free and fair elections in all the 42 Parliament­ary constituen­cies, making it clear that there should be no place for violence or money power. If they fail to comply, we will enforce it and take decisive measures,” Kumar said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Kumar held a meeting with Chief Secretary B P Gopalika and Director General of Police (DGP) Rajeev Kumar, following a couple of days of consultati­ons with various stakeholde­rs, including political party representa­tives and state/district administra­tion officials in Bengal.

The ECI has directed the district administra­tion to ensure accessibil­ity to all political parties and hold regular meetings with them. It has directed the state administra­tion to maintain absolute transparen­cy in the deployment of Central forces. “We have given a clear mandate so far as the deployment of central forces is concerned. The deployment, primarily, will be done by a team of three members including state CEO (Chief Electoral Officer) Aariz Aftab, State Police Nodal Officer Anand Kumar, and the central observer.

The deployment in the districts will be done by the District Magistrate, Superinten­dent of Police, and the district observer,” Kumar said, adding that Central forces’ deployment plans must be shared with political parties during weekly meetings.

Kumar warned of zero tolerance against any form of violence, intimidati­on, or threats to voters and candidates during the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. He called for transparen­cy in granting permission­s to parties for ground and meeting places for campaignin­g based on a “First In First Out” principle. He added that observers – details of whom will be made public to ensure transparen­cy – must actively visit polling booths, interact with polling agents, and promptly address any irregulari­ties.

The poll panel said that strict measures will be taken against cases of impersonat­ion and bogus voting with immediate legal action against impersonat­ors. He clarified that non-possession of an Aadhaar card will not be a bar in casting one’s franchise during the elections.

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