Likely to be rescheduled before Diwali which falls on October 17-18
CHANDIGARH: Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla on Saturday said the Commission would consider advancing the date for counting of votes in Haryana and Maharashtra which go to the polls next month.
State Assembly polls in Haryana, Maharashtra and Arunachal Pradesh are scheduled for October 13 and the counting of votes is to take place simultaneously in the three States on October 22.
Responding to media persons’ queries at a press conference here about the wide gap between the dates of polling and counting, Mr. Chawla said the Commission would consider the suggestion mooted by the media to have the counting in Haryana and Maharashtra done before Diwali which falls on October 17-18.
Interestingly, justifying the Commission’s decision to hold the counting of votes on October 22, he said the wide gap between the polling and counting dates had been necessitated because of the difficult terrain in Arunachal Pradesh where the election officials would have to even go on foot to distant polling stations. And in case re-polling was ordered in some cases, the staff on election duty would take some time to reach and return from those places.
He said even though there were no logistic difficulties involved in Haryana and Maharashtra, the counting date had been fixed for one day in all three States as per usual practice.
Talking to the media in the evening after the Election Commission had met administrative officials and representatives of various political parties, Mr. Chawla, flanked by Election Commissioner S. Y. Quraishi and Assistant Election Commissioner Alok Shukla, expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made for the upcoming elections to the 90-member Haryana Assembly.
Replying to a question, he confirmed that representatives of one political party (the Indian National Lok Dal) had demanded that the polls in the State be held under President’s Rule. However, the Commission felt that there was no need for President’s Rule in the State, he added.
Mr. Chawla said the Commission would take action in case any instances of violation of the model code of conduct now in force for the elections were brought to its notice. The Divisional Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, Police Commissioners, Inspectors-General of Police and Superintendents of Police had been directed to ensure strict compliance of the Code, he added.
While rejecting the demand made by a political party for holding the polls in Haryana under the command of Central forces, the Chief Election Commissioner said adequate Central forces would be deployed in the State for smooth conduct of elections. The police have been instructed to ensure night patrolling.
Replying to another question, he said that since the announcement of the elections by the Commission it had not received any complaint from any political party about publication of surrogate advertisements in newspapers.
He said instructions had already been issued to the political parties not to deface private property and reminded that the Act in this regard was already in place in Haryana. However, one banner and flag could be displayed on private property and that too with the owner’s permission.