PNS | Hyderabad
The Election Commission of India is fully committed to conducting free, fair, transparent and inducement-free elections in Telangana, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said here on Thursday.
He was addressing a press conference at the end of his three-day visit to Hyderabad to review arrangements to conduct the forthcoming Assembly elections in Telangana.
The ECI team, which met all state and Central enforcement agencies during the visit, directed them to act strictly against the use of money power during the elections.
“A loud and clear message was given to them to act very strictly against the use of money power during elections. They were directed to dry up the flow of liquor, cash, freebies and drugs,” he said.
“This perception of the misuse of money power and the distribution of freebies by political parties or candidates doesn’t augur well for democracy,” he added. The agencies were directed to identify the kingpins of each such malpractice. Banks have been directed to keep a watch on illicit online cash transfers through wallets. The State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBS) were told not to allow cash dispensing vehicles to move after designated hours.
A lookout will be kept on ambulances and even government vehicles if the agencies doubt that they are being misused. There will be strict vigil at inter-state borders. He pointed out that 17 districts of Telangana share borders with the four states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
There will be 148 check posts, including 89 police check posts and 21 excise check posts.
All helipads and airstrips will be monitored. All enforcement agencies have been asked to function in a coordinated manner.
State enforcement agencies have been directed to identify sensitive goods with a high probable use for distribution. They were told to keep tabs on warehouses and godowns used for stockpiling liquor and freebies. The checking of cargo movement through non-scheduled chartered flights will also be taken up.
Citizens can use the Vigil mobile app to report violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). “This will be extremely useful for us to curb the use of money power or distribution of freebies. On this app, you can take photos of everything illegal happening anywhere like the distribution of money, liquor and freebies and post them. Your name will not be revealed,” he said.
The complaint will be verified in 100 minutes and the complainant will be informed about the action taken. Political parties have demanded that elections should be inducement-free. They requested that money power and the distribution of liquor and freebies should be curbed. The parties also urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) to ensure the sanctity of electoral rolls, deploy Central armed police forces at critical locations and deploy micro observers at polling stations, especially in urban areas. They also demanded steps to check impersonation and hate speeches on social media.
There are 3.17 crore voters in the 119 Assembly constituencies of the state. He said that he is happy to note that male and female voters are equal in numbers. He also appealed to all voters to cast their votes and celebrate the great festival of democracy. A total of 22 lakh voters were deleted in 2022 and 2023 through an intensive process. He said 14 lakh dead/duplicate/residence shifted voters were deleted in 2022 while 7.9 lakh were deleted in 2023.
He clarified that deletions from the voters’ list were not done suo moto but only after receiving Form-7 and verification. All safeguards were taken against wrongful deletions.
Regarding complaints that some houses have a large number of voters, the CEC said all households having more than six voters were checked across the state. A total of 7.66 lakh houses with over 75.97 lakh voters were identified and of them, 4.15 lakh voters were identified for address correction.
The state has 35,356 polling stations with an average of 897 voters per polling station. There are 14,458 polling stations in urban areas and 20,898 polling stations in rural areas. Webcasting of polling will be arranged from 22,798 (78 per cent) polling stations. On enhanced voter experience, he said the model polling stations increased from 119 in 2018 to 644 in 2023. There will be 120 polling stations managed by persons with disabilities, 597 managed by women and 119 by youth.
For the first time in Telangana, a facility will be available to 4.43 lakh senior citizens aged above 80 to vote from the comfort of their homes. They have to fill out Form 12D within five days of the election notification. Persons with a disability of 40 per cent or more can also vote from home.