“We have the highest standards of neutrality”

Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath on Saturday refuted Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s allegation that the Election Commission was biased against her.

“We, the Election Commission, are not only neutral, but also maintaining a level-playing field among all parties and candidates. We are almost half-the-time telling our officers to maintain utmost neutrality. There is no question of the EC being biased. We have the highest standards of neutrality,” he said.

Pointing out that Tamil Nadu was one of the sensitive States when it came to election expenditure management, he said the EC had appointed 78 expenditure officers and another 235 assistant expenditure officers. There would also be 705 flying squads.

Mr. Sampath said in Tamil Nadu, already Rs. 18.36 crore had been seized besides liquor worth Rs. 18.74 lakh. Since liquor was one of the major inducements, the Excise Department had been asked to keep an extra vigil on the sale of liquor on daily basis to ensure no excess sale.

The EC had also done mapping of vulnerable area to enable the electorate there to vote. “We are also giving great focus on ethical voting and affixed voter’s pledge in the polling stations,” he said.

Asked about Ms Jayalalithaa’s decision to move court against the EC’s announcement that expenses of rallies organised by a political party would be added to a candidate’s account if he was introduced from the dais, Mr Sampath said it was done strictly as per law and judgment of the Supreme Court.

He said political parties could do propagation of general party programmes and policies and if the candidate took advantage of it, the reasonable inference would be that this expense would be credited to the account of candidate.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National