Poll dates in HP to be decided on various factors: CEC

Shimla/ July 12

The Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath on Thursday said the poll dates in Himachal would be linked to the parameters of weather, festivals and Gujarat polls.

Sampath, who was here along with other high-ups, including Election commissioner H.S. Brahma, to take stock of the situation ahead of assembly polls, slated later this year, said, “The Commission is satisfied with the preparedness of the state for elections,” he told media persons.

He said though the ECI is keeping close tabs on the actions of the government and the conduct of its officials. “Even before the mode code of conduct comes into force, the ECI normally keeps watch on actions of the government and its officers ahead of the polls.”

Sampath said the ECI had reviewed and order situation in Himachal Pradesh. “It’s much better than other states.”

He said to the Commission would take steps to curb the menace of money power and paid news in the ensuing polls.

“We met five political parties and they have given suggestions over the timings of the election. We will keep the festive season and the weather conditions (onset of winter season), as per their suggestions, before finalising the poll dates,” he said, Sampath said the political parties sought that the elections should not be clashed with festivals Dasshera and Diwali.

“He said there was also concern over the use of money power and paid news in the elections. “We will work in this direct to curb the menace,” he added.

For monitoring the election-related expenditure of candidates and political parties, the Chief Election Commissioner said the Commission held meetings with the income tax department. “This will also help arresting the use of money power in the elections.”On conducting the elections in a single phase, Sampath said: “Some (political parties) were asking about (conducting the elections) in a single phase, some in two phases. We have taken all views.” “Himachal Pradesh is one of the few states to reach 100 percent in photo electoral rolls and EPIC (election photo identity cards),” he said. He said the Commission was ensuring special programmes for greater participation of voters in the assembly polls.

He said communication in tribal areas was a grey area and the Commission had since asked the Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police to make special arrangements during assembly polls.

He  informed that the ECI has submitted a list of administrative officers, who have completed a tenure of three years at one place of posting, to the Chief Secretary for their transfer before announcement of assembly polls. “An administrative officer at one place of posting for years long generally develops local linkages that may affect the fairness of elections,” said the CEC.