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Robust strategy to prevent use of money and drugs in Punjab Assembly polls: Election Commission

Chandigarh: With the drug menace becoming a huge issue in Punjab elections, the Election Commission on Tuesday said a robust strategy will be prepared to prevent use of money, drugs and liquor in the assembly polls.

The CEC said all efforts will be made for conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections in Punjab.

"The suggestions given by (opposition) parties have been taken note of by the EC with all sincerity and we have assured we will leave no stone unturned for conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections," Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said addressing a press conference here.

"We want to conduct the elections in a totally neutral and unbiased manner," he stressed.

On concerns raised by various parties regarding use of drugs and liquor during Punjab polls to influence voters, Zaidi said, "Robust strategy will be prepared to prevent use of money, drugs and liquor".

Image courtesy: IBNLive

Image courtesy: IBNLive

Replying to a question, the CEC asserted that "The Commission is committed to prevent use of drugs in polls. The Commission is ready to tackle the issue of drugs during poll process."

Zaidi also said that various parties have sought "overhauling" of the police and civil administration in the State.

A delegation of various parties including Congress and AAP had met a team of Election Commission led by Chief Election Commissioner here two days back.

A nine-member Election Commission had arrived here on Sunday on a three-day visit to review preparations ahead of polls which are due early next year.

About the issues raised by the parties, Zaidi said "political parties want polls be conducted in free and fair manner."

He said the parties want the Election Commission to take steps to ensure that voters do not face any kind of any threat or intimidation.

"They (opposition parties) have requested that there should be overhaul of police and civil administration for free and fair polls," he said, adding these parties have brought to notice the large number of criminals and anti-social elements, who may be operative in the system or out on parole.

Parties have also highlighted abuse of liquor, money and drug problem. They have requested that there should be special task force to check these during poll process, the CEC said.

The parties also want that the Model Code of Conduct should be imposed as soon as possible in Punjab, Zaidi said.

Punjab has international border and a vast border with neighbouring states and efforts are to secure the state borders to prevent smuggling of liquor and drugs, he said.

"They want that it should be enforced as soon as possible," he said.

The parties also want that the elections should be held under maximum coverage of central police forces and that these should be deployed well in advance so that they help in confidence building measures.

The Election Commission will also keep a hawk eye on paid news menace, after the parties drew the EC's attention to it.

On the law and order issue and security scenario, the CEC said, "We have asked all district police officials to conduct vulnerable mapping, which means areas where voters can face intimidation or any kind of threat.

He said parties have requested that central forces be deployed in police stations to prevent any possibility of influencing the voters. "We will provide adequate central forces so that any kind of nexus to involve local police officials is not successful," he said.

Asked About the number of voters, Zaidi said that on 7 September, Punjab had 1.92 crore voters. During the summary revision process which began on September 7 for a period of one month, the state has received six lakh new application for new voters.

About 1.85 lakh applications have been received for deletion of names, which includes who have shifted or who have died, he said. "We want the polls to be disabled-friendly, be it electoral registration process or casting of votes," he said.

Updated Date: Oct 25, 2016 16:07 PM

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