A team of municipal commissioners of Solapur, Nagpur and Amravati to monitor the publicity campaigns

With a year of local body elections ahead, the Maharashtra Election Commission is planning to set up a committee and invite suggestions from the media to tackle the menace of paid news, State Election Commissioner Neela Satyanarayana said at a press conference here on Friday.

“Paid news is a cause for concern to us. Many media persons have met us in connection with the issue. We would be forming a committee and calling for suggestions from them as they know the other side of the story well,” Ms. Satyanarayana said.

A team comprising municipal commissioners of Solapur, Nagpur and Amravati will monitor the publicity campaigns of candidates and ensure adherence to the model code conduct, she said.

Following the Centre's decision to increase the election expenditure limit for candidates, the EC is considering increasing the spending limit for local body elections. For the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the limit is Rs.1.35 lakh, while for others it is Rs.1 lakh.

In the light of the State's decision to reserve 50 per cent of the seats in local body polls for women, Ms. Satyanarayana said training programmes would be conducted for women in the political and administrative process so that they were not turned into proxies by male relatives.

“In gram panchayat elections we have seen how elected women candidates simply become proxies, while men run the show.”

E-voting facility is likely to be made available on a trial basis for the benefit of the aged, disabled persons, and the youth, Ms. Satyanarayana said.

However, security issues pertaining to online registrations are vital, and need to be addressed, she said.