Money power a problem, particularly in Tamil Nadu: S.Y. Quraishi

The Election Commission (EC) will monitor poll expenditure more closely than ever before, Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla said on Tuesday.

Addressing journalists at the end of a meeting with district election officers and inspectors-general of police near here, Mr. Chawla said the EC was in the process of evolving norms for a “much better reporting system for expenditure.” The issue was discussed at a recent meeting of chief electoral officers in Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr. Chawla said the Commission was also trying to further develop the machinery of observers so that a tighter control over expenditure could be exercised, adding: “We will do our best.”

Pointing out that the use of money power was becoming an “increasing problem,” Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi said: “We feel that Tamil Nadu particularly has this issue. We will be keeping a close eye on this.”

Describing the media as “a friend and ally” of the EC, Mr. Quraishi appealed to journalists to keep exposing the malpractice “which was quite rampant in some of the elections in the last couple of years.”

Mr. Chawla said instructions had also been issued to the chief electoral officers on the phenomenon of paid news.

‘No withdrawing cases'

Answering questions on cases filed during election campaigns, he said: “We will not permit any State government, by executive order, to withdraw a case. If a case has been registered during elections at the behest of our machinery, that case must find its finality in a court of law. It cannot be withdrawn by executive government of the day.”

On the public perception that there was no follow-up on such cases, Mr. Chawla added: “There is some truth in that. We are going to pursue those [cases] closely.”

Asked about the show-cause issued by the EC against Karnataka Ministers Janardhan Reddy and Karunakara Reddy, Mr. Chawla said the reply to the notice had to be sent by July 15. The notice was issued on the basis of a reference from Governor H.R. Bhardwaj.

On queries regarding the possible advancement of the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Chawla said: “We do not know whether the elections are going to be advanced in this State or any other State. But it is normal for the Election Commission to start particularly looking at the electoral roll.” He added that other issues would be taken up around the time of elections.

On whether the services of Chief Electoral Officer Naresh Gupta (who is retiring on July 31) would be extended, he said: “That is really the most difficult question of all.”

Asked about his post-retirement plans (Mr. Chawla will also retire by the end of the month), he said he would write travel books. “No memoirs. That will be boring.”

Mr. Gupta and V.S. Sampath, another Election Commissioner, were among those present.

More In: News | National