NATIONAL

More transfers not ruled out: Gopalaswami

FOR FAIR POLLS: Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami flanked by Election Commissioners Navin B Chawla (left) and S. Y. Qureshi at a press conference on Uttar Pradesh elections in New Delhi on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Photo: PTI

J. Venkatesan

Top brass shifted on the basis of assessment; decision internal

New Delhi: Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami on Thursday justified the shifting of the top brass in Uttar Pradesh and indicated that more transfers were in the offing.

Talking to reporters after addressing here 320 observers to be deployed for the Assembly elections in the State, he said Wednesday's transfers were effected on the basis of the assessment made by the commission from time to time.

On the comment by Director-General of Police Bua Singh that his transfer humiliated him, Mr. Gopalaswami said, "It is [a] free country. Everyone has got the right to express his opinion. We have some more cases and we have to look at them and if there is something, nothing will prevent us from taking action."

Refusing to spell out why the top brass were transferred, the CEC said the decision was taken for various reasons.

It was internal. Replacement to these eight posts might be announced by Friday.

Asked whether the transfer of so many top officials meant that the commission had no faith in the administration in conducting the elections, the CEC said, "in individuals we may not have."

Special problems

There were special problems in the State such as some people enjoying unauthorised security cover, and intimidation of voters.

The commission was satisfied with the State's action in executing non-bailable warrants against criminals.

As for deployment of Central paramilitary forces, he said it would be between 95 and 99 per cent. Security would be provided for every polling station.

The observers were asked to tour their constituencies extensively and build confidence in weaker and disadvantaged sections. They would constantly review the execution of non-bailable warrants, recovery of illicit arms and collection of licensed arms from anti-social elements. The observers would make sure that the affidavits filed by candidates contained particulars of their movable/immovable assets, qualification, convictions and cases pending in court, if any.

The affidavits would be displayed prominently and made available for public scrutiny without loss of time.

At the time of nominations, not more than three vehicles would be allowed within 100 metres of the returning officer's office.

To curb overcrowding, only candidates, their proposers and four others would be allowed to enter the returning officer's office.

Extensive videography

Poll officials were asked to make sure that extensive videography was done of all critical events and of polling at hyper-sensitive/sensitive stations.

Central government employees would be engaged for poll duty to the extent possible.

Mr. Gopalaswami said conduct of Instapoll by the electronic media during polling was an offence and cases would be registered against violators.

Election Commissioners Navin Chawla and S.Y. Qureshi attended the meeting.