For the first time in the electoral exercise in their respective States, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, which had Assembly elections recently, have created history by recording the highest percentage of voter turnout this time.
While West Bengal recorded 84.46 per cent voter turnout this time, in 2006 Assembly poll it had 81.97 per cent polling. In Tamil Nadu, in the recent poll 78.80 per cent voters exercised their franchise compared to 70.82 per cent in 2006 poll. Puducherry had 85.57 per cent (it was 85.46 per cent in 2006 poll) voter turnout this time, Assam 76.04 per cent (75.77 per cent) and Kerala recorded 75.12 per cent (72.38 per cent) during this election.
Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi, who was briefing journalists, along with Election Commissioners V.S. Sampath and H.S. Brahma, on the just concluded mini general elections in four States and Puducherry, on Wednesday said: “I am very happy to tell you like Bihar, women turned out in larger number than men in Kerala, Puducherry, West Bengal and almost equal in Tamil Nadu,” he added.
Due to the drastic efforts taken by the Commission money power was curtailed to great extent in this poll, he said.
The Commission, along with income-tax and other officials, seized Rs.74.27 crore unaccounted money of which Rs.60.10 crore was recovered in Tamil Nadu alone. In Assam Rs.5.20 crore was seized, Rs.8.35 crore in West Bengal and Rs.62 lakh in Kerala.
He said 11 cases of “paid news” were under the consideration of the Commission.
The CEC said in view of several political parties launching their own TV channels for publicity during polls, the Commission was working on guidelines for the electronic media to ensure a level playing field. “In some of the States which went to polls, most of the channels are owned by political parties.”
This would deny other parties a level-playing field in the elections. TV channels owned by political parties would change the complexion as they did not have to buy space on other channels.
“We are also examining whether using your own channel for unlimited publicity, how to account for [poll expenses]. We are examining. Before the next elections, we will have some policy in place,” he said.
It may be noted that in Tamil Nadu, almost every major political party has a TV channel to back them up. While the DMK relies on the Kalaignar TV, the AIADMK publicity is taken care of by the Jaya TV, the Congress by the Mega TV, the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam of Vijaykant is supported by the Captain TV and the PMK by the Makkal TV.
To a question, Mr. Quraishi said the Commission was considering a proposal to have paper back up for recording votes registered in the Electronic Voting Machines.