By deleting non-existent voters, adding new ones and getting micro-observers to examine poll expenditure and conduct, the Election Commission has laid the pitch for interesting political matches in Delhi

The elections to the Delhi Assembly later this year and then the Lok Sabha next year are expected to be keenly contested affairs between arch rivals — the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party — this time round as well. But what is about to spice them up is the role of two other players.

On one hand, there is the newly floated Aam Aadmi Party, which is going to the polls on the plank of providing a corruption-free regime and doing away with all that ails the current polity. And on the other, the Election Commission through its Delhi arm, the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, has embarked upon a number of new schemes, drives and programmes to ensure free and fair polls. The role of money and liquor is not hidden from anyone in the way elections are fought and won. But this time round, if political observers are to be believed, the flow of liquor and money may get curbed due to the presence of AAP candidates in the fray. “When the AAP is promising clean governance, it is expected to not only contest the polls that way, but is also likely to micro-monitor the activities of the other key contestants,’’ said an observer.

The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer has for its part taken a slew of measures to ensure that only genuine voters are able to vote, the electoral rolls cover all those above 18, the limits to poll expenditure are adhered to and there is no foul play of any kind.

As CEO Vijay Kumar Dev said to this end about 17 lakh non-existent votes have been deleted and about 15 lakh new voters added through drives for which about 2,000 camps were set up.

Apart from this, he also said: “For the first time, expenditure monitoring will be done by special teams, which would be videographing the use of vehicles, spending on food and meetings, distribution of literature and putting up of posters and hoardings by the candidates.’’

“At present, the system is of static surveillance, but now flying squads, accompanied by police personnel, will videograph all the events, movements and conduct of the candidates. The footage would be scanned by video-viewing teams to be constituted by all the Deputy Commissioners, who are also the Returning Officers. The DCs will then order removal of impermissible material.’’

Moreover, Mr. Dev said now a “shadow expenditure register of every candidate will also be maintained and the expenditure-monitoring team will through market standard rates determine the amount of money spent by each one of them on the elections. Till now, it was the candidate who used to submit an account, which was often fabricated, but now it would be tallied with this shadow register.’’

Over-expenditure, the CEO said, it would be reported to the Election Commission. “There is a provision for disqualification but it has seldom been used. But this time, the Election Commission is going to be strict with the candidates. Most importantly, the video footage would be preserved as it would constitute admissible evidence in any court of law while pursuing a case of disqualification. This, we expect, would deter the candidates.’’

With separate teams of micro-observers, comprising a gazetted officer, videographer and other staff, also being deployed at every polling station, the Election Commission appears to have got all the visible loose ends tied.

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