Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Chief Electoral Officer Naresh Gupta asserted on Monday that he had no affinity with any political party.

At a press conference here, he said he had always acted on the complaints filed. After due enquiries, he initiated appropriate action. “Some people are unnecessarily finding fault with me. While one side is finding fault with me and questioning my impartiality for taking too seriously what they consider small incidents and complaints of distribution of money, the other side is aggrieved with the Commission for not checking the distribution of money and ensuring the independent functioning of the official machinery,” he said, referring to parties making allegations against him during the recent Madurai West by-election.

“You can denigrate anyone in this country…But one has to realise that there is no point. It does not lead us anywhere,” he said. Each act of the CEO or that of the Commission could be looked at from an angle that suited each party. But it had to be remembered that “elections are small steps in a democracy. If it cannot be held in a free and fair manner, democracy is in jeopardy.”

Referring to the specific case in Ponneri, in which he was accused of not taking action, Mr.Gupta said 8,312 claims were filed in bulk, besides 11,431 individual claims. The total number of applications received was 19,743. After thorough verification, many applications were rejected.

Only 8,742 claims were admitted. The EC had filed complaints on May 30, 2005, on the false claims.

On the filing of cases relating to false claims, 470 complaints were filed after the complaints were vetted by counsel for the Election Commission. Of these, 412 were against the AIADMK, 29 against the DMK, three against the MDMK, one against the BJP and three against the PMK.

Cases filed against 22 others were pending in courts.