Quraishi reviews election arrangements

The Election Commission of India on Friday made it clear that elections to the Goa Assembly was likely to be clubbed with those for the four Assemblies due in early 2012, but the dates of the same had not yet been decided.

The States are Punjab, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi, who was in Goa with Election Commissioners H.S. Brahma and V.S. Sampath, to review the election arrangements, said that election dates had not been discussed.

“We completed tours of all the States due for election and reviewed the situation. We will talk to the Home Ministry in the matter of police forces and so on. Mostly, we will hold these elections together and we will try to club them. But at the moment all the options are open,” Mr. Quraishi told journalists after holding meetings with officials to review the preparedness of election machinery, and also political parties.

He said that some parties had complained about mistakes in the electoral rolls such as failure to delete names of the dead, fake and migrant voters, mostly from States like Karnataka and Bihar, who failed to delete their names from their home State rolls.

The Commission had ordered an enquiry into these complaints.

Paid news

The parties complained about “paid news” and told the Commission that many politicians were releasing birthday advertisements as a quid pro quo for favours during elections. They had expressed concern about use of money power and liquor in Goa. “We have asked the authorities to keep an eye on this issue,” said Mr. Quraishi.

Several proposals for electoral reforms made by the Commission were pending with the government. These included the move to declare “paid news” as an electoral malpractice that would be treated as a criminal offence with a minimum punishment of two-year jail.

Asked about the action the ECI had taken over a complaint about “paid news” referred to it by the Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ), Mr. Quraishi said it had been referred to the Press Council of India for action.

Voter slip

Voter slip with photo identity will be issued by the EC and not by the agents of political parties anymore. This system had been successful in Bihar elections, and would be made applicable in Goa.

He said that he had issued directives to officials to consider media reports about violations during elections as complaints and take action.