Poll preparedness in five districts reviewed by EC

MAKING A POINT: Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami (left) addressing presspersons in Mangalore on Thursday. Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi (centre) and Deputy Election Commissioner R. Bhattacharya are seen.

MAKING A POINT: Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami (left) addressing presspersons in Mangalore on Thursday. Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi (centre) and Deputy Election Commissioner R. Bhattacharya are seen.  

Staff Correspondent

Call to create public awareness on 20 alternatives to EPICs

Government urged to ban pre-poll, exit surveys

Check on liquor movement termed as unsatisfactory

MANGALORE: The Election Commission on Thursday directed Deputy Commissioners to literally beat the drum and make the voters aware of the 20 documents that could be used as alternatives to electors’ photo identity cards (EPICs) for voting. The commission has said the computer-generated temporary ration coupon issued by the Food and Civil Supplies Department, with unique code containing names of family members, could be used as the 20th document.

Addressing the presspersons after reviewing the poll preparedness in five districts with election officials and political parties here on Thursday, Mr. Gopalaswami said village accountants and local revenue officials had been directed to identify the bearers of such cards, as they did not have photographs on them. “A separate queue can be set up for such voters, wherever feasible,” he said.

Stating that the commission had issued advertisements in newspapers about the document added to the list, the commission said that this message might not have reached all voters, especially non-literate people in rural areas.

Asked if the commission was satisfied with the progress achieved in the distribution of EPICs in the State, Mr. Gopalaswami replied in the negative. “This is why we have allowed these 20 documents and we want to ensure that the people are not denied an opportunity to exercise their franchise,” he said and added that the Chief Electoral Officer had been directed to complete the process of issuing EPICs in the State quickly.

Photo electoral rolls

On the issue of photo electoral rolls, he said most States had given a programme to implement it well before the scheduled general elections in 2009. Some States, which went to the polls recently or were in the midst of poll process, including Karnataka, had assured the commission that the task of preparing photo electoral rolls would be completed on schedule. States such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, had completed the process, he added.

The commission had recommended to the Government to ban pre-poll and exit surveys, especially in States where polls were planned in a phased manner. The commission had not sought any separate ban in this regard, of late. It was left to the Government to decide on the issue, he said.

Mr. Gopalaswami said that criticism by parties against each other through advertisements should not cross the limits of decency.

Expressing displeasure over the Excise Department’s failure to check the movement of illicit liquor, Mr. Gopalaswami said it had come to the notice of the commission that most of it was being generated within Karnataka. Nelamangala had emerged as the hub where this liquor was coming from and it was being transported in specially modified trucks, as was found at Chitradurga recently, he said.

The commission recently organised a videoconferencing with Directors-General of Police of neighbouring States and the respective Principal Home Secretaries and directed them to ensure effective “naka bandi” to prevent the free flow of liquor in to Karnataka during the Assembly polls.

“The lethargic functioning of the Excise Department has been brought to the notice of Principal Secretary (Finance) and he has been asked to take remedial steps,” Mr. Gopalaswami said.

The commission had directed the Commercial Taxes Department to keep a tab on the coupons reportedly being issued in some stores. The Endowment Department had been asked to take stock of large donations made to religious institutions with an appeal to the followers of these institutions to vote for a particular candidate or a party, he said. Bogus marriages and birthday parties used for electioneering too would come under scanner, he added.

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