Millennium Post (Kolkata)

EC gears up to deal with 4-Ms — Muscle, Money, Misinfo and Model Code violations


NEW DELHI: Drone-based checking at borders, surveillan­ce of non-chartered flights, a crackdown on misleading advertisem­ents and fake news, and “ruthless” action against poll violence are among the EC’s strategies to deal with the four-fold challenge of “muscle, money, misinforma­tion, and Model Code violations”.

Announcing the schedule of general elections for the 18th Lok Sabha, Chief Election Commission­er Rajiv Kumar said the poll body is fully determined to tackle the challenges.

“The daunting challenge in conducting free and fair elections are four-fold, the four Ms: muscle, money, misinforma­tion, and MCC (Model Code of Conduct) violations. The Election Commission is committed and has put in place measures to deal with these disruptive challenges,” he said.

To tackle the first ‘M’ -“Muscle” the Election Commission has issued some guidelines and regulation­s so that the polls can be held in a free and fair manner. “We have issued strict directions to DMs and SPs to ensure a level playing field. Additional­ly, CAPF would be deployed adequately and assisted by integrated control rooms in each district. There will also be drone-based checking at the borders,” the CEC said.

Asserting that violence in elections is unacceptab­le, Kumar said the poll panel will be “ruthless” if any violence takes place during elections.

“In the 2022-23 election cycle, cash seizure surged over 800 per cent to Rs 3,400 crore in 11 states compared to five years ago. Enforcemen­t agencies have been directed to crack down on illicit money, liquor, drugs and freebies, and stay vigilant against disruptive methods.

“No movement of bank vehicles will be allowed after sunset and there will be surveillan­ce and inspection of nonschedul­ed chartered flights.

Strict vigil will be maintained over illicit online cash transfers,” he said. Warning against creating “digital memories” of any bad words during campaignin­g, Kumar said, “I urge parties to refrain from personal attacks and foul language. No-go areas in speeches are defined to maintain civility. Let’s not cross lines in our rivalry.”

“It is important because in this digital world... whatever is said once, its record will be there for 100 years. Avoid creating digital memories of bad words coming from your mouth,” he said. Noting that tackling misinforma­tion in this digital age is complex, Kumar said the EC has put in place certain measures to ensure misinforma­tion is nipped in the bud.

“We are proactive in debunking fake news. Originator­s of fake news are to be dealt with severely as per extant laws. Remember, ‘verify before you amplify” is the mantra to combat fake news. Let’s rely on authoritat­ive sources to ensure accurate informatio­n prevails. Stay vigilant and help us maintain the integrity of the electoral process,” he said.

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