The Tamil Nadu State Election Commission has not adopted any yardstick in identifying sensitive or vulnerable polling booths, said S. Ayyar, State Election Commissioner (SEC), in Coimbatore on Monday.

“The Commission has asked officials to keep dynamic the list of such booths.” He was addressing journalists after conducting a review meeting with collectors, police chiefs and local body officials from eights districts in the Western region.

“What was sensitive or vulnerable for the last Assembly election may not be so now. And, what was then not vulnerable may have become so after an incident in the recent past. Hence it is not advisable to have a list that is not open to change.”

Terming satisfactory the arrangements made, Mr. Ayyar said the police, to face any eventuality, were ready with a striking force, rapid action force and zonal party that would reach the crisis spot within 10 minutes.

The Commission had issued instructions to the district officials to monitor the outflow of liquor from the TASMAC-run outlets, particularly in bulk. “Given the holiday for liquor outlets prior to and on the date of polling and counting and the tendency among public to stock bottles, the district officials had been asked to keep a vigil.

The Commission had also advised officials on poll duty to very carefully scrutinise invalid voters by taking into confidence the counting agents of candidates as victory margin in panchayats and town panchayats was usually narrow.

The SEC said that he had asked officials to act without fear or favour as the Commission would take serious cognisance of their partisan approach, if any. “They [the officials] too are bound by Model Code of Conduct.”

Be it officials, candidates, their supporters or political party leader, the Commission was for implementing the rule of law. This would not stop with registration of cases. The Commission would ensure that it was followed-up and the cases reached their logical conclusion.

In conducting the election the Commission had relied on experiences in the past, learnt lesson from mistakes and taken seriously the advice given by the judiciary in this regard. “This election will be an example for others to emulate.”

In this regard, Mr. Ayyar also said that 12 state election commissioners and officials from other States had responded to his invitation to observe the local body polls. This exercise was one of the many steps the Commission had taken to make the polls free, fair and transparent.

Regarding the use of electronic voting machines, he said 9,583 wards in urban local bodies required more than two machines as the number of contestants was more than 16.

Mr. Ayyar then released posters urging voters to exercise their franchise.

Keywords: civic polls