District Collector M. Beena has said that candidates contesting the forthcoming election to local bodies should file expenditure statements on their first phase of election campaigning at offices concerned by October 18.

The final expenditure statement needs to be filed within two days from the date of declaration of results. Dr. Beena was addressing a meeting of political parties to discuss preparations for the election at the district collectorate on Monday. District election observer T.T. Antony was also present.

The Collector said that the photo-affixed identity cards of candidates and their agents should be collected from returning officers immediately. Permits issued for campaign vehicles should also be collected.

Criticism against opponents, Dr. Beena said, should be restricted to their policies, programmes past performance. Campaign aimed at tarnishing the personal lives of party leaders or workers would be treated as an offence. Criticism should not be directed at parties or workers based on baseless and twisted accusations.

Candidates or political parties should not engage in activities likely to incite communal violence. Picketing or sit-in in front of one's household to protest against his or her personal viewpoint or activity would not be allowed.

The Collector said that care should be taken to ensure that Central and State government employees, employees of local self-government bodies, universities, and public sector undertakings have not been engaged in electioneering.

She sought the cooperation of political parties for the effective implementation of the model code of conduct.

In an earlier meeting, Dr. Beena urged returning officers to be completely impartial in the discharge of their duties. Initial expenses for setting up polling booths had been allotted. Approval had also been received for the first phase allotment of expenses to returning officers. Training of returning officers will start on Tuesday. Returning officers without vehicles had been permitted to rent one.

Additional District Magistrate K.N. Raji, and Deputy Collector (Election) C.K. Eliamma were also present.

The defacement squad of the district returning officer seized and destroyed 1,337 campaign materials across various taluks. Forty nine boards, 23 banners, 31 each flex boards and flags, 1,203 posters were among those removed. Sixty-two cases had been taken up against various political parties in this connection.

More In: Kochi