Election Commission Director General briefs officials on poll procedures

Constituency watch: Kerala

Forty-three candidates have filed 96 sets of nomination papers for the Ernakulam and Chalakudy constituencies as the time for filing nominations expired at 3 p.m. on Saturday. A total of 49 sets of nominations were submitted for Ernakulam and 47 for Chalakudy. Twenty-two candidates are left in the fray in the Ernakulam constituency.

Scrutiny of nominations will be held on March 24 and candidates will have time to withdraw nominations till 3 p.m. on March 26. Twenty candidates filed nominations on the last day alone – 10 each for Ernakulam and Chalakudy. In fact, tokens had to be issued to contain the rush so that everyone who turned up before the cut-off time could file nominations. It was 4 p.m. by the time all the nominations were received.

Meanwhile, Election Commission Director General Ashish Sreevastava has asked assistant returning officers and assistant expenditure observers to be on high alert to ensure free and fair elections.

Addressing a meeting of assistant returning officers at the Ernakulam guest house, Mr. Srivastava said that the next two weeks were very crucial to ensure this and directed the officials to carry out more intense inspections and activities during the period. A list of voters who are not present in the constituency, those who have shifted out, and those whose names appear more than once in the voters list should be drawn up immediately. While the names of these voters would not be removed from the voters list for the time being, there would be extra vigil to ensure that they did not cast votes. The model code of conduct should be enforced strictly, he said.

Ramps should be arranged at all polling booths to facilitate smooth voting by differently-abled and the aged. Steps should be taken to ensure that the office of no candidate or party functioned within 200 metres of polling booths. Continuous inspections should be carried out around polling booths and nearby areas. Deputy Collector (Election) S. Shanavas explained the election-related measures being taken in the district. Mr. Srivastava was informed about the completion of the first round of training for polling officials and inspection of voting machines.

State Additional Electoral Officer Sabu Paul Sebastian, Sub-Collector Bhandari Swagat Ranveer Chand, Assistant Collector S. Suhas attended the meeting. Later, Mr. Srivastava met District Collector M.G. Rajamanickam and held discussions. Superintendent of Police, Ernakulam Rural, Satheesh Bino; and Deputy Commissioner of Police R. Nishanthini were present.

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