V. Jayanth

Draft rolls for all constituencies to be published on January 23

There will be a special campaign day on February 4 Final rolls will be published on February 27 CEC directive "shocks" Government officials' union

CHENNAI: The draft electoral rolls for all 234 Assembly constituencies in the State will be published on January 23.

The filing of claims and objections will begin the same day and go on till February 6 and the final rolls will be published on February 27, Chief Electoral Officer Naresh Gupta announced here on Wednesday.

This has been done to carry out validation checks to ensure "error-free" rolls.

There will be a special campaign day on February 4, before filing of claims and objections begins.

The visit of Chief Election Commissioner B.B. Tandon to the State has galvanised the electoral machinery to get on with the massive task of preparing and conducting the Assembly elections.

In his interaction with the District Electoral Officer and Electoral Returning Officers in Coimbatore, Madurai and Chennai, Mr. Tandon is reported to have delivered a clear and firm message - ensure complete neutrality during the poll process.

Some of the Collectors, who participated in these discussions, said a whole range of issues were raised at the meetings - verification of electoral rolls, registration of complaints about "stuffing" of rolls, deletion of names of those on whom non-bailable warrants could not be served and coverage of registered voters under the Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC).

EPIC coverage

The CEC was obviously concerned about the "low EPIC coverage" in Tamil Nadu. The tendering process has started and the Collectors expect to begin a fresh drive from January-end. The objective is to reach 90 per cent over the next three months.

Asked about the move to delete names of those on whom NBWs could not be served, the officials said the police officers had explained that the number was relatively low in the State when compared to the north. The Director-General of Police was frequently reviewing these cases. The list was being categorised to delete those who were not resident in the given addresses. There was another list of those whose names were not in the electoral rolls. The rest of the names were already with the police.

Need for more EVMs

Another issue that figured in the discussions related to the increase in the number of polling stations and, consequently, the need for more electronic voting machines (EVMs). The EC has revised the norms to provide a polling booth for every 1,200 voters, instead of the present 1,500. As a result, the State will need more polling booths and stations, in addition to EVMs.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Government Officials' Union has expressed "shock and confusion" over the CEC's instruction to transfer all election-relation staff out of their native district. While sending a representation to the Election Commission, the Chief Electoral Officer and the Chief Minister, conveying these sentiments, the Union has emphasised the point that all personnel involved in election work "fully implement the rules and guidelines laid down by the EC." They have sought reconsideration of the move.

Transfer issue

When contacted, the CEO Naresh Gupta, said: "The Election Commission is seized of the matter and we are expecting a clarification on the transfer issue very soon. What the CEC said was a general guideline. For the lower category of staff, the transfer unit in our State is the district. This position has been conveyed to the Commission."