EC committed to conduct free and fair polls in Bihar: Zaidi
Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi on Monday reviewed the preparedness for the first three phases of Assembly polls in Bihar and said the Election Commission was committed to conduct free and fair polls.
Patna: Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi on Monday reviewed the preparedness for the first three phases of Assembly polls in Bihar and said the Election Commission was committed to conduct free and fair polls.
"We have reviewed preparedness for the first three phases of Assembly polls in Bihar... we have directed the officials to ensure free, fair, peaceful, participatory and voter-friendly polls," Zaidi told reporters at the end of the full EC panel's two-day visit in the state.
The CEC was accompanied by the other two EC members -- Om Prakash Rawat and Achal Kumar Jyoti, besides top officials during meetings with political parties, district civil and police officials.
Giving a summary of the poll panel's meeting with the political partieson Sunday, the CEC said the parties have expressed satisfaction over the ongoing preparations for the polls and have sought strict implementation of the Model Code of Conduct.
The parties have urged adequate measures to ensure communal amity and peace during the upcoming festival season as well as preventive measures against use of money power in the polls, to which the Commission has assured them that all needful would be done, Zaidi said.
The CEC said the political parties have also asked for special EC drives in the final 48 hours before the polls to prevent use of money power and liquor to lure voters.
Among other facilities demanded by them were more vehicles to carry campaign material to far off places and timely permission for venue of election meetings and helicopters, he said, adding that the EC has set up a single window system called 'Subidha' in all districts for grant of such permissions within 24 hours and in case of requisitioning of helicopters in 36 hours.
The decision on vehicles to be used by political parties for transporting campaign material would be taken in a day or two, the CEC said.
A software-based facility called 'Samadhan' would work like a public grievance redressal system and deal with complaints lodged by the people and voters, Zaidi said.
The District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police have been directed to conduct the polls in a peaceful manner and ensure communal amity during festivities and build confidence among the voters, he said.
The CEC said the Central Police Forces (CPFs) have been made available in large numbers and they would be utilised 100 per cent at the polling booths.
The CPFs would also petrol the vulnerable areas to build confidence among voters and a list of those terrorising the people has been drawn and strict action would be taken.
Regarding seizure of unaccounted cash and other related materials including arms/weapons, Zaidi said the authorities have seized Rs nine crore unaccounted cash so far.
The police have been directed to carry out regular vehicle checks and work out special strategy to instill confidence among voters in the areas dominated by Left Wing Extremism (LWE), the CEC said.
He said political parties have been warned of strict action in case of MCC violation and to prevent use of money power in the Bihar polls, adding special surveillance teams would be deployed in all constituencies 72 hours prior to the polling dates and 62 constituencies have been identified as sensitive in this regard.
With regard to EC's initiatives for the electorate, Zaidi said the Commission would provide them with photo voter slips five days before polling in their constituencies.
Voters should treat the photo voter slips as an invitation to exercise their franchise, the CEC said, adding "We want to give a good experience to the voters this time."
He said the EC has directed for setting up of at least four model polling stations in each district equipped with infrastructure and civic facilities.
"We have decided to ensure impartiality, neutrality and fairness in all decisions related to polls," Zaidi said.
The CEC said the Commission was confident that poll percentage this time would be higher as voters have been educated about their rights by conducting Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP).
Observing that the EC has decided to hold an incident-free Assembly polls in Bihar, Zaidi said an atmosphere has been created through strict enforcement of law to ensure the voters did not get influenced or terrorised.
He said deployment of CPFs at constituency levels would be dealt by the observers and at the state level, by the EC through its officials.
Defending transfer of officials by the EC after announcement of poll dates for Bihar earlier this month, the CEC said, "We transfer officials during elections on the basis of our own assessment, comprising perception and suitability among other reasons."
Zaidi said the EC has its own mechanism to deal with suitability of officials for poll purpose.
On silent rigging of the polls, Zaidi said the Commission has its own quick reaction teams to deal with such matters, besides mobile parties would be used to prevent such malpractices.
The EC has deployed micro-observers and taken measures like web-casting and videography of polls. The CPF personnel on duty at polling stations could enter the booths to check whether any rigging was taking place or not, the CEC added.
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