Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi said here on Tuesday that the Election Commission (EC) has issued a directive to officials in the five States that are scheduled for polls that any media report exposing malpractices and violations of the model code of conduct should be treated as formal complaints and prompt action should be taken.
Speaking to journalists after two days of reviewing the poll preparations in Assam and meeting representatives of political parties, Mr. Quraishi said the EC would take the media along in checking malpractices during the upcoming Assembly polls.
He said the Commission has issued stern warning to government officials on poll duty that they will be in trouble if the slightest lack of neutrality is noticed. It has also directed the Assam government to shift 137 officials who were identified to be still posted in their home districts or to have already completed three years at the same place of posting.
On the the complaints lodged by Opposition parties that the ruling party was misusing government machinery and distributing freebies like bicycles, blankets and yarn to woo voters in violation of the model code of conduct, Mr. Quraishi said the EC would ensure that this was stopped.
Mr. Quraishi announced that a 24x7 call centre manned by youth had been set up for the first time with an all-India toll-free number, 1965, with 10 hunting lines to help voters make queries or lodge complaints. The call centre will become functional from Thursday.
After receiving the queries or complaints, the call centre will pass them on to the respective control rooms.
Mr. Quraishi said the EC was “very satisfied” with the poll arrangements in Assam and hoped that the State would have free, fair and peaceful polls. He said that during the review, poll officials had assured the EC that while the country had been taking about the Bihar model of polls after the successful Assembly elections in that State, it would now talk about the Assam model of polls.