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EC reviews preparations for Assembly polls

Special Correspondent
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BJP, BSP want poll panel to contain paid news phenomenon

A high-level team of Election Commission of India (ECI) officials, headed by Chief Election Commissioner V. S. Sampath and two Election Commissioners H.S. Brahma and Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi, visited Karnataka on Friday and reviewed the arrangements relating to the Assembly elections scheduled to be held in May, before announcing poll dates.

The team, which interacted with representatives of political parties in Bangalore, will be discussing issues related to poll arrangements and security with the district and State officials on Saturday.

Representatives of political parties such as the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal (Secular), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Communist Party of India (Marxists) met the EC team and submitted their memorandums regarding the arrangements.

Interestingly, the BJP and BSP have underlined the need to control and regulate “paid news” phenomenon, which according to them has become a “havoc”.

Speaking to presspersons after submitting memorandum, BJP media in-charge S. Prakash said the party had demanded action against media houses that have succumbed to paid news strategy, before election process concludes. Similar was the opinion of Marasandra Muniyappa, president state BSP unit.

Deletion of names

Congress leader B.L. Shankar said that the party had appealed to the poll panel to address the problem of deletion of names of people from minority communities and vulnerable section of society from the voters’ list “even without giving an opportunity of hearing”.

The Congress had suggested rationalising polling booths and making them voter-friendly, distribution of voters identification slip by the EC, uniformity in implementing code of conduct, single window system to get permission for holing public meetings, rallies and other modes of propaganda, distribution of various kinds of materials to woo electorates, stopping transfer of revenue and police officials with an eye on elections.

“We have also appealed to EC to stop the BJP government from distributing largesse’s announced in the recent budget, till the completion of election process,” he said.

Appealing to the EC to take steps to contain money and muscle power in the election, the Janata Dal (Secular) cited instances of State and Central governments blatantly employing both the strategies to win elections.

Janata Dal (Secular) spokesperson C. Narayanaswamy said that an appeal had been made to take steps to put an end to practice of purchasing election identification cards by political parties and extending protection to weaker sections.

48-hour ban irks BJP

Meanwhile, the State Election Commission’s decision to stop public campaign for the forthcoming urban local bodies’ elections 48 hours before the polling as against its earlier decision of sticking to a 24-hour ban has ruffled the feathers of the ruling BJP as it filed a petition in this regard before the SEC on Friday opposing the new restrictions.

In the petition, the BJP pointed out that the commission had indicated in its code of conduct-2013 norms brought out earlier that it would stick to a 24-hour ban on public campaigning ahead of polling. But the Commission’s new directive on extending the ban had suggested an “unwise and blind use of its powers”, the party said and maintained that it was illegal to change the rules of the game after the declaration of the polls.

Terming this as undemocratic and against the provisions of the law, the BJP appealed to the commission to revert to the 24-hour ban

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