Special Correspondent

Election commissioners hold meeting with State election officials

Preparations for first phase of polls termed satisfactory

Officials told to enforce model code of conduct

BANGALORE: In view of the many complaints of transportation and distribution of election material, the Election Commission has prohibited the distribution of caps, T-shirts or any other inducement to voters by political parties and candidates during the election campaign.

Addressing presspersons after a daylong meeting with State election officials here on Tuesday, Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami said political parties and candidates should obtain permission from State Chief Electoral Officer M.N. Vidyashankar to transport campaign material from Bangalore to other districts. In the case of inter-district movement of material, candidates should obtain permission from the District Electoral Officers, he said.

Mr. Gopalaswami and Election Commissioners S.Y. Quraishi and Navin Chawla reviewed the preparations for the first phase of polls on May 10 in 89 constituencies in 11 districts. The commission termed the poll preparedness satisfactory and called upon election officials to strictly enforce the model code of conduct.

On complaints regarding distribution of electronic goods to voters, the Chief Election Commissioners said officials of the Commercial Taxes Department had been asked to monitor the off-take of goods such as television sets and refrigerators from shops in bulk.

He asked all district authorities to be more vigilant to prevent illegal transportation of liquor, cash and other articles as part of the drive to check electoral malpractices.

Mr. Gopalaswami said there were complaints about unauthorised establishment of party offices in some districts and directed that such offices be closed. Candidates conducting pujas and distributing prasadam to voters would be in violation of the model code of conduct, he said.

Referring to the involvement of self-help groups in campaigning, he said SHGs were non-governmental organisations, and they could take part in any activity they wanted. But the participation of anganwadi workers who were members of SHGs would violate the code of conduct. Action would be taken against anganwadi workers who campaigned for a candidate, he warned.

Extra EVMs

The commission has decided to provide two electronic voting machines in all constituencies where more than 16 candidates are contesting the elections.

Twenty-nine candidates, the highest number in the first phase of the elections, are contesting in Mulbagal constituency in Kolar district.

Asked about surrogate advertisements by candidates in the form of news in newspapers, Mr. Gopalaswami said the commission would look into such advertisements and include it under the election expenditure of candidates.

On complaints against non-distribution of electors’ photo identity cards (EPICs) to all voters, he said eligible voters in a family should have no difficulty in voting if one member had an EPIC as it would be sufficient to identify all members subject to the production of other permissible documents.

Mr. Gopalaswami, Mr. Quraishi and Mr. Chawla also held discussions with major political parties on various issues.