Asks representatives to call his mobile number to lodge complaints

Stringent action will be initiated against any election official who favours any political party, including the ruling party, during the Yercaud by-elections, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Praveen Kumar said here on Friday.

After discussing arrangements for the by-elections with district-level election officers, police and representatives of various political parties, the CEO told presspersons, “I have given my mobile phone number to the representatives of political parties here to directly report such incidents to me.

“Action will be taken immediately,” he said, warning that charges would be framed against errant officials by the Election Commission of India.

“Ravi Prakash Arora of Uttar Pradesh has been appointed General Observer for the by-elections. The Expenditure Observer will be appointed soon. The number of flying squads and static surveillance teams to check distribution of money or gifts for vote will be increased”, he said.

Stating that Rs.14 lakh is the ceiling for election expenses per candidate, he said unaccounted cash of more than Rs. 50,000 in the possession of the representatives of political parties (other than accounted transaction of the candidate) would be treated as bribe for distribution to voters.

He said violation of the Model Code of Conduct or distribution of money or gifts can be reported at the toll free number 18004257050.

He added that persons caught distributing money to buy votes and those accepting it would face imprisonment up to one year.

“There are 2,34,734 voters in Yercaud Assembly Segment. They would cast their vote in 290 booths in 120 polling stations, and all these booths will be considered as sensitive ones. We have sought the services of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)”, he added.

Earlier during the review meetings, the CEO and Collector heard grievances and representations made by the representatives of various political parties.

Dravida Munetra Kazhagam (DMK) representatives said the representation submitted to the CEO had a detailed account of the alleged malpractices involving the ruling party and the support they got from officials.

The All India Anna Dravida Munetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) pointed out that a few polling booths in Papanayakanpatti and Vadakunadu and Therkunadu in Kalvarayan Hills were located far away.

Voters would be forced to cover three to four kilometres on foot to cast their vote.

New booths should be opened in their vicinity, they demanded.

Congress representatives pointed out that the statues of Mahatma Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar were covered with sacks as part of the Model Code of Conduct. They wanted the covers to be removed as the two were national leaders.

The Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam urged officials to monitor the new tenders that were floated in areas covered under Yercaud Assembly Segment after the date for the by-elections was announced.

The CEO promised to consider the suggestions and objections.

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