Today's Paper

EC will consider posting more observers

CHENNAI, FEB. 26. The Election Commission will consider appointing more than three observers, belonging to other States, for each constituency to monitor the Lok Sabha poll in Tamil Nadu.

Normally two general observers and one expenditure observer would be appointed for each constituency. As political parties in the State demanded, during a meeting here on Wednesday, that more than three observers be appointed, the issue would be given due consideration, the Election Commissioner, B.B. Tandon, told newsmen here today.

The observers would be given strict instructions to report to the Commission anything going wrong in their area of operation during the campaign and on the polling day. They would act as the ``eyes and ears'' of the Commission.

More para-military police would be deployed as political parties here were ``apprehensive of misuse of police'' by the State Government. The Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Director-General of Police had assured him that there would be no misuse of the official machinery, Mr. Tandon said.

The Commission would open a cell in all district headquarters and in Chennai to register complaints against violation of the code of conduct by the parties. Officers manning these cells were asked to forward the complaints to the returning officers for immediate action. Also a help line would be set up in Chennai and district headquarters to answer the voters' poll-related queries.

Mr. Tandon said representatives of the parties had also demanded that simultaneous, single-day polling be held both in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. They wanted the election held in May as public examinations and religious festivals would be conducted in April. The Commission would consider their requests.

Referring to the parties' complaint of mass inclusion of voters, he said that based on their representation, the Commission had made a random check in Madurai, Theni and Dindigul districts and nearly 51,000 names were deleted. Totally about 20 lakh names were deleted in the State including of bogus voters, those who died and who migrated from their places. The final rolls had since been published. There was still an opportunity for the voters to include or delete names till the date of filing of nominations by candidates. However, mass deletion or inclusion by the political parties would not be allowed.

On the code of conduct, Mr.Tandon said it would come into force only after the poll notification. Instructions were issued to officials to prevent defacement of walls. He had already brought to the notice of the Chief Electoral Officer defacement in the city by some parties. The Commission would erase the writings and recover the cost from the candidates.

The candidates would have to file, along with their nomination papers, an affidavit containing particulars of their antecedents, personal assets and liabilities as well as that of their spouses and dependents. If they failed to submit the affidavits, their nominations would be rejected. The documents would be made public to enable the voters to know about their candidates. While the returning officers had no power to verify the affidavit, rival candidates could challenge it if they found that the information was wrong.

Earlier in the day, Mr.Tandon held a meeting with all Collectors and returning officers and reviewed the poll preparedness in the districts, particularly the final publication of rolls, training in electronic voting machines and counting arrangements.