Chief Electoral Officer holds meeting with political parties

In session: Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo at the meeting with political parties on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Ragu R.

Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo on Monday held a meeting with the representatives of recognised political parties at the Secretariat, ahead of the Assembly election.

The ruling AIADMK sought clarity on the mechanism of voting for those aged above 80, while the Opposition DMK expressed concerns over postal votes and made a slew of other allegations, including on cash for votes.

Mr. Sahoo called the meeting to discuss the model code of conduct after the announcement of the election dates last week.

“We asked the Election Commission to clarify to all parties the mechanism for postal voting for voters above the age of 80. We also urged them to clarify the measures in place to ensure that they don’t come and vote again in the polling booth,” Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker Pollachi Jayaraman, from the AIADMK, told presspersons after the meeting.

The Commission had assured them that a two-day camp would be organised and an online facility would be made available for new voters to enrol themselves, he said.

DMK’s organising secretary R.S. Bharathi alleged that the ruling party had already started distributing cash and gifts.

“We urged the Commission to keep a strict vigil. We also communicated rules are not clear about postal voting,” he said. Mr. Bharathi alleged that the BJP won the Bihar elections due to the rigging of postal votes and hence had asked for a cancellation of postal votes. They had also moved the Madras High Court on the issue, he added.

He also alleged that a number of government officials, especially in cooperatives, were given transfer orders that were pre-dated, to make it look as if it was issued prior to the announcement of the election dates.

Mr. Bharathi said a number of announcements were made in the Assembly at the last minute, just before the announcement of election date, and wondered how the Governor could give assent to a Bill, a day after the dates were announced.

He also alleged that the Commission had not taken any concrete action against the DMK’s previous complaints.

Mr. Bharathi expressed concern over the plan to count all the votes in one place.

R. Damodaran, vice-president, Tamil Nadu Congress, said his party had urged the EC to strictly monitor alleged cash distribution by the ruling party.

Representatives from the DMDK said they wanted to know what action was being taken against the cash seizures made in the past and also against the candidates involved in such practices. They also urged the EC not to allot symbols that were identical to the DMDK and ensure that the flying squads don’t harass the public.

BJP representatives said the meeting was on the new moral code of conduct (which came into effort amid the COVID-19 pandemic), but some parties made points which are not part of the agenda. They also sought clarity about the norm that states that the candidates with a criminal background as well as the political parties they belong to should advertise three times in TV channels and newspapers. Specifically, they wanted to know the nature of TV Channels and the newspapers in which such ads should be made.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 5:04:03 PM |

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