BHOPAL: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Wednesday put to rest all speculation about deferring of Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, but didn't drop any hint about when the year-end polls will be held.
A team of top officials of ECI headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) OP Rawat and including the two Election Commissioners, Sunil Arora and Ashok Lavasa, on Wednesday evening completed two days of review meetings in Bhopal to assess poll preparations in the state.
When queried by journalists in the evening about whether the Assembly polls will be held in time or deferred to be held along with Lok Sabha polls, Rawat made it clear, "the very fact that we're here is enough evidence that assembly polls in the state will be held in time, but no dates can be indicated as of now," he added.
While detailing the concerns and issues raised by representatives of various political parties during the two-day visit, Rawat said, "some political parties have requested us to take into account the celebration of festivals like Deepawali (November 7), Amavasya and Itzema Tabligi during November 23 and 26, in Bhopal while deciding the poll schedule. The Commission has taken note of the concerns and will take into account these issues while finalizing the actual poll dates."
The CEC, however, reiterated once again that One Nation One Poll wasn't possible until a suitable constitutional amendment was made.
In 2013, the assembly polls on all 230 seats were held in November in a single phase on November 25, while the results were declared on December 8. The tenure of the present state assembly expires in the first week of January 2019.
While detailing about further representations made by political parties, Rawat said that it was brought to the ECI team's notice that polling stations have been shifted in a North MP district to keep away the weaker sections from exercising their franchise and ultimately benefit the influential sections. "The concerned divisional commissioner and district collector have directed to immediately act in the matter and address the issue on priority," said Rawat.
As Madhya Pradesh is bordered by other states, including UP, it has also come to the Commission's notice that people residing in the immediate bordering states could be trying to exercise their franchise in assembly polls in MP as well.
"The guiding theme in the assembly polls this time is that No voter is left behind. Accessibility of electoral process to all sections of society, particularly Persons with Disabilities (PwD) is critical for us, owing to which a database of PwD voters is being created and such electors would be enrolled and mapped with polling stations and the list shall be provided to the booth level officers for providing special assistance to such voters," he maintained.
For the first time, the Commission will deploy Accessibility Observers along with general observers, expenditure observers, police observers and micro-observers for close monitoring of the polls. "Some political parties have requested that with MP being largely a Hindi speaking state, the observers too should be as far as possible Hindi speaking to connect properly with the electorate," the CEC said.
Citizen to be empowered with App to report wrongdoings and violation of model code of conduct (MCC).
A new cVigil (citizen vigil) app will be extensively used for the first time in the forthcoming assembly polls. The app which was pilot tested in Bengaluru will allow anyone in the poll-bound state to report violations of MCC.
By using this app, the citizens can immediately report on incidents of misconduct within minutes of having witnessed them and without having to rush to the office of the returning officer to lodge a complaint.
The vigilant citizen has to click a picture or record a video of upto two minutes duration of the scene of violations of the MCC. The photo/video is to be then uploaded on the app. The automated location mapping will be done by the app using the GIS.
After its successful submission through the app, the vigilant citizen gets a unique ID to track and receive the follow-up updates on his/her mobile phone. The identity of the complainant will be kept confidential.