New Delhi: After the debacle in Bihar polls, the BJP has pushed back its campaign…
NEW DELHI(PTI): The Election Commission on Thursday said it is their endeavour to hold the next year’s Assembly polls in West Bengal in free, fair and peaceful manner and deploy central forces and IT-enabled efficient and smart observers for smooth conduct of election process.
“The Election Commission will perform its constitutional obligations and ensure that the Assembly elections in West Bengal are held in free, fair and peaceful manner,” Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told a press conference here after a series of meetings with officials and political parties.
“There will be 100 per cent availability of central paramilitary forces in all the polling stations. They will be available well in advance and be used for area domination and confidence-building measures,” he said.
“The Election Commission-appointed observers will be looking into the boothwise, areawise deployment of the central forces and the observers will be from outside the state,” he said.
Asked how the EC will ensure free and fair polls as there are allegations from opposition parties of violence during the Lok Sabha poll, Zaidi said, “As Lok Sabha elections are held throughout the country, the availability of central forces was less. But this time central paramilitary forces will be deployed at every booth. The CPFs will be deployed and supervised directly by the ECI.”
On the law and order situation in the state, Zaidi said, “We came here to assess the situation. We have already directed our election machinery to take note of, record and document any incident with political overtones.” Asked how the EC plans to hold a violence-free election as previous polls in Bengal were marred by violence, the CEC said, “As I mentioned, everytime the Election commission has raised the bar and this time also it will be our endeavour to make the election peaceful in the state”.
Zaidi said “it has to be seen that no voter is denied the basic right to vote. This responsibility lies with district election officials, DMs and SPs”. He said the commission would continue to assess performance of district election officials and other officials who are likely to be attached with the EC. Depending on the assessment and requirement, the commission would take appropriate action at an appropriate time.
“The commission will deploy IT-enabled efficient and smart observers,” he said, adding if required, the number of observers will be enhanced. Asked how many phases the election will have, Zaidi said,” It is too early to say”.
Earlier in the day, opposition parties in the state had urged Zaidi to ensure a free and fair poll which should have five to seven phases. The full bench of the poll panel, led by the CEC, held a series of meetings with all political parties, senior government officials and district administrations.
Zaidi said around 31 lakh applications for new voters were received, out of which 26 lakh were enrolled. He said three IT-related initiatives have been taken up.
“One is “Subidha” which is a single-window system where permissions for holding rallies will be given in 24 hours.” “The second one is “Samadhan”, which is a grievance redressal system such as electoral roll and other problems. The third one is regarding the hiring of transport machinery. The portal will be called “Sugam” which will address issues related to transport operators from whom vehicles are requisitioned,” he said.
Stating that the final electoral roll would be released on January 5, 2016, the CEC said “It is, however, subject to continuous updation.” “Similarly in case of wrong deletion there is a system of its redressal,” Zaidi said, adding that the entire matter would be handled effectively.
Even as the state has a total of about 77,000 polling booths, the number could be enhanced if required, Zaidi said adding, “The poll panel gives lot of emphasis on providing with basic facilities for the voters and polling personnel in all polling booths.”
The CEC also directed all officials in the state, who would be involved with the polling process, to be neutral, fair and impartial in discharging their election duties. Number of polling and expenditure observers could also be increased, if required, he said adding that special observers could also be sent to entirely oversee the law and order situation in the state.
“We heard all stake-holders and now we are assessing the situation before initiating appropriate measures,” Zaidi said adding that we have assured the political parties of an effective machinery of the poll panel to ensure a free, fair, peaceful and transparent election in the state. The CEC further said that steps have also been taken to put the persons with criminal antecedents behind the bar well ahead of the polling schedule and take precautionary measures to avoid any untoward incidents during the polling process.