Special Correspondent

Keep State police off poll duty: parties

Gopalaswami calls for list of ‘tainted’ officers

Not many complaints of “ghost” voters

AHMEDABAD: The Election Commission has taken a serious note of complaints that the Narendra Modi government effected large-scale transfers of police officers, and agreed to consider the possibility of holding the Gujarat Assembly elections with outside security cover. Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami said several political parties expressed an apprehension about the role of the Gujarat police, particularly in view of the transfers of senior officers made recently, and wanted the State police kept away from poll duty.

“We are looking into the matter seriously,” Mr. Gopalaswami said. He had asked the State Election Commission to send a list of the “tainted” police and administrative officers transferred back to the places where they had been posted before the 2002 Assembly polls.

The full Election Commission, including Commissioners Navin Chawla and S.Y. Qureshi, arrived here on Wednesday night for the last round of discussions with the parties, government officials and State Commission officials on poll preparedness. Delegations of several parties, including the Congress and the BJP, submitted memoranda. Later Mr Gopalaswami, flanked by Mr. Chawla and Mr. Qureshi, had a brief chat with mediapersons but declined to give any indication of when the election dates would be announced. “I am as ignorant about it as you are,” he said with a smile. The term of the present Assembly would expire on December 25 and “we are duty bound to complete the election process before that date.” Mr Gopalaswami also refused to indicate whether the elections would be held in one or more phases in all 182 constituencies. Asked whether it would be possible to hold the entire elections with police posted from outside the State, he said, “It is not difficult.”He said there were not many complaints of “ghost” voters. But EC officials found that about 51,000 names were “duplicated” in the voter list. The EC was verifying whether they were all bogus voters or the names were inadvertently duplicated.

Congress complaint

The Congress, in its memorandum, complained of large-scale displacement of genuine voters in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and other urban centres under the garb of widening of roads. It was not possible to issue voter identity cards in their new places of residence, it said.

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