NATIONAL

Notice served on Shinde

MUMBAI, OCT. 11. The Maharashtra Chief Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, has been served a notice by the Returning Officer of his constituency, South Solapur, for allegedly undervaluing his flat in a posh locality in Mumbai.

While filing his nomination papers, Mr. Shinde had stated in his affidavit that his flat in Mumbai was worth Rs. 6 lakhs. Kirit Somaiya, former BJP MP, disputed this and said in a counter-affidavit that the flat was worth much more.

The Chief Electoral Officer, U.P.S. Madan, told reporters here today that the Returning Officer had issued notice to Mr. Shinde. An FIR would be lodged with the police after getting Mr. Shinde's reply, he added.

Mr. Madan said that during the election campaign that ended at 5.30 p.m. today, 805 electioneering-related offences were registered but most of them were minor. They included only eight to ten major ones.

The Election Commission (EC) has made elaborate arrangements for Wednesday's (October 13) elections in 288 Assembly constituencies of Maharashtra, having 6.59 crore voters, including 3.15 crore women. They would cast their votes with 82,000 electronic voting machines in 64,390 polling booths.

Of these, 4,076 booths have been identified as sensitive and 431 as very sensitive; needing extra police protection. The EC is going to deploy 239 companies of Central paramilitary forces besides 70,000 policemen of Maharashtra and 4,700 constables and officers of the other States.

Braille script

For the first time in the country, dummy ballot papers in the Braille script would be placed in polling stations of 38 constituencies of Mumbai and Thane to help visually challenged voters to exercise their franchise alone. But they would be allowed to keep a companion if they so wished. The physically challenged voters and senior citizens will have a separate queue.

Mr. Madan said that in all 2,678 candidates were in the fray and they included the Congress 157, NCP 124, BJP 111, Shiv Sena 163, BSP 272, SP 95, CPI (M) 16, CPI 15, other parties 642 and independents 1083.

Delegations from the election commissions of Nepal and Kenya will arrive here to get first hand information about the voting in Maharashtra, Mr. Madan said.

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