The Election Commission of India (ECI) has emphasized the need to be more alert during last 48 hours before the polling in Punjab impending chances of distribution of cash/drugs/liquor to woo voters as with large-scale mobilization of state police and paramilitary forces for polling stations during said period, creates a vulnerable situation.
Presiding over a meeting with Punjab CEO VK Singh and his team of officers, IGP/Elections, Commissioners of Police, DEOs, Expenditure observers and SSPs through video-conferencing, PK Dash , Director General, ECI pointed out that keeping in view the tough electoral battle ahead in Punjab, it becomes imperative to deploy police force led by senior field officers strategically with twin purpose to check any last-minute maneuvering and instilling a sense of security amongst common people also. He said that district level control rooms should be more strengthened during that period.
He said that the Election machinery should also keep close vigil on any attempt to entertain voters under the garb of any family function by throwing lavish party. He clarified that if anybody was hosting such function during that period, he should bring it in the notice of concerned RO/ARO in advance to avoid any harassment.
Singh said that Administration has been asked to prepare special arrangements to handle last 48 hours before poll. DEOs have been asked to keep surprise nakas and flying squads operational even during this time. He asked SSPs to make available sufficient force for this purpose.
Directing Expenditure observers to be more proactive, Dash said that they should in consultation with DEO/RO identify expenditure sensitive candidates and follow them with videography teams wherever they go and if need arises then put special teams right before their residences to check any suspicious activity. He asked them to facilitate the candidates in keeping their expenditure registers by guiding or imparting required training too. He also asked them to keep close eye on those candidates, who were showing negligible expenditure.
On this occasion, Akshay Rout, Director General briefly outlined the steps to be taken check the trend of paid news and urged the DEOs to take more interest in Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) affairs to have collective action of mind. Appreciating the unique initiatives of Punjab on Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) front, Mr. Rout underlined the need for starting polling by 7.00 am sharp and continuity of dialogue with voters’ throughout the day to achieve the target of 10 percent increase in polling.
At the onset of video-conferencing, VK Singh briefly outlined the preparedness of state for general elections to Lok Sabha-2014. He informed that till date the cash seizure in state was Rs. 21.85 crore, seizure of drugs of worth Rs. 731 crore besides 7.50 lac litres/kgs of illicit liquor, country made liquor and lahan. He said that 841 Village/Ward awareness groups have been set up to report any illegal activity in ongoing poll process and encourage people for ethical voting to strengthen the institution of democracy.
Earlier in a preliminary meeting with DEOs, Singh categorically said that women employees on poll duty should be given special attention and poll staff should not face any harassment while issuing poll material and later submission of such material after completion of polling.
B Purushartha, Additional CEO said that as per the revised guidelines of ECI, every polling booth would be model booth and if the DEOs ensure more facilities on any booth, it could be called super model booth.
Raminder Singh and Supreet Singh Gulati, both Additional CEOs, Arpit Shukla, IGP/Elections, Shivdular Singh Dhillon, Additional ETC, Sanjeev Kaushal, Joint Director/Investigation, Income Tax and Amit Talwar, Joint CEO were also present during the video-conferencing.