Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi on Wednesday pooh-poohed comments and criticism of some political parties on the “functioning and strict enforcement of model code of conduct by the Election Commission” and dismissed them as “irresponsible statements”.

The Commission was interested in holding a free and fair (Assembly) election (in 5 States) with the level playing field for all the contestants/political parties and “if someone feels the heat it is their problem. We are very fair and there is no doubt about that.”

Mr. Quraishi was speaking to journalists here on Wednesday during a function organised by the Commission to celebrate the “national voters’ day”.

The EC recently received wraths from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and her Punjab counterpart Prakash Singh Badal on the enforcement of the code of conduct. While Ms. Mayawati termed the Commission as “anti-dalit”, Mr. Badal wanted the Commission officials to “act with constitutional restraint.”

KALAM

Earlier, participating in the voters’ day function, former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who distributed Elector Photo Identity Card (EPIC) to some new voters, asked EC to fully exploit the information and communications technology in the electoral process.

“This will not only save cost but also make way for transparency and enhance voter participation,” he said adding that India required a shift towards developmental politics to raise her poor from the clutches of poverty. The correlation between wealth and politics needed to be removed and conscience should play a big role for that, he said.

Elaborating his vision for a hassle-free poll process through the application of an e-governance grid, Dr. Kalam said the moment a candidate files his papers; the polling officer should get access to all the details concerning him from various departments connected through a grid like his educational qualifications from the university, his track record from his previous employers, salary from the last employer, credit details from the banks, pending cases from the police station and criminal conviction, if any, from the judiciary.

And through artificial intelligence software, voters also could secure a rating on his ability and how successful he would be if he gets elected. Added to these, instruments like SMS, 3G software and multimedia would enhance voters’ participation, Dr. Kalam said.

The former President also presented national awards to four District Election Officers (DEO’s)/ Superintendents of Police (SP’s) -- Mayur Maheshwari, DEO, Ramabai Nagar (U.P.), Prabhav Kumar, SP, Bankura (WB), Amit Singla, DEO, North-west Delhi, and S. Sangeetha, RDO, Trichy West R.O. (TN) - for adopting “Best Electoral Practices”.

Mr. Quraishi said the “voters’ awareness day” was being run on a “mission mode” and the motive was to enhance the voter enrolment level until all voters were registered in India.

Election Commissioners V.S. Sampath and H.S. Brahma participated.

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