NATIONAL

65 per cent polling in Arunachal Pradesh

MILD ALTERCATION: Polling agents of a Congress candidate asking policemen (not in the picture) to send out an agent of the BJP candidate at a booth at Tipi, Arunachal Pradesh. — Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar  

NEW DELHI, OCT. 7 . The Election Commission today said that an estimated 65 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise in the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly elections.

Briefing reporters, the Deputy Election Commissioner and spokesman, A.N. Jha, said "polling was peaceful in all the 57 Assembly segments. Three candidates were elected unopposed."

Polling, which was adjourned in certain booths, would be held in six polling stations, spread over four Assembly constituencies tomorrow.

Repolling had been ordered in one polling station of the Daporogo Assembly on October 9, Mr. Jha said and added that because of heavy rainfall and landslips, polling officers in four polling stations could not reach in time. Counting for all the Assembly seats would be held on October 10.

In the 1999 Assembly elections, the State recorded 72.95 per cent and in the recent Lok Sabha polls, the State recorded 56.35 per cent voting.

'Not soft towards Centre'

Mr. Jha denied that the Commission was a "little soft" towards the United Progressive Government at the Centre which had announced at the time of the elections the setting up of a National Commission to study the issue of reservation for the poor among the linguistic and religious minorities.

Asked whether the Commission was "soft" unlike on earlier occasions when it even warned of de-recognising the political parties for violating the model code of conduct, he said, "I don't think so". He said: "I am only conveying the decision of the Commission." To a question whether the poll panel had "no power" to deal with such issues, he said "these are debatable issues."

Mr. Jha said 15,000 additional Central paramilitary forces were being sent to Maharashtra to ensure peaceful Assembly polls on October 13. The neighbouring States had been asked to spare Home Guards to Maharashtra and some State Governments had agreed to do so. He denied that there was a shortage of police personnel for the poll duty.

The Commission had also allowed the State Government to make use of the ex-servicemen who retired in the last five years for poll duty.

Report on Tamil Nadu

Mr. Jha said the Chief Electoral Officer of Kerala, P.J. Thomas, who probed the complaints of largescale omission of names from the electoral roles in Tamil Nadu during the recent parliamentary elections, had submitted his report.

The Commission was examining the report and it would soon come out with corrective measures to check deficiencies in the system of the revision of the rolls.

Mr. Jha said that for the first time, the Commission had decided to use the services of post offices for revision of the rolls. The copies of the rolls were available in the area post offices. Forms for making application for the inclusion of names, deletion or correction of entries were also available free of cost during the period allowed for the filing of claims and objections at the time of annual revision.

The Commission had ordered revision of rolls with reference to January 1, 2005 as the qualifying date. In States such as Delhi, the programme had started and in some States the programme would begin shortly. The Commission has appealed to the public to use the services of post offices for filing claims and objections.