EC takes steps to ensure fair polling in remaining phases

New Delhi: Amid allegations of largescale rigging and booth capturing in various states, the Election Commission has taken steps like deploying poll tracking teams and activating quick response system to ensure free and fair balloting in the last two phases of Lok Sabha polls.

Presiding officers have been asked to use their powers under electoral laws to use central foces deployed in polling stations to prevent any “untoward” incident.

Besides the sector magistrate, who is in charge of 10 polling stations, the EC has also decided to deploy static magistrates in sensitive booths polling stations to respond immediately to complaints.

The EC said the decision to enhance security measures was taken in the wake of large scale complaints and suggestions made by political parties.

“We learn by experience. We take criticism sportingly… it is an ongoing exercise,” Deputy EC Vinod Zutshi told reporters here while briefing on the poll arrangements.

While 64 constituencies in seven states will go to polls tomorrow, another 41 seats in three states will go to polls on May 12, the last of the nine-phased electoral exercise.

Zutshi said the Booth Level Officers (BLOs) have now been asked to keep an eye on happenings in polling stations and report any untoward incident to the observers or sector magistrates.

The EC has been flooded with complaints of rigging and booth capturing in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

There had also been allegaqtions that poll authorities at the field level have failed to react to the complaints promptly.
Zutshi said since local media reports untoward incidents on the poll day promptly, the local TV channels will be monitored to react swiftly without waiting for a formal complaint.

This is part of the latest initiative to form poll day tracking teams to deal with cases promptly.

Another dfirective issued by the EC states that any complaint received from the polling agents at any level shall be inquired immediately.

“The ROs or observers shall also scrutinise the documents related to such polling stations carefully and record their views specifically,” according to the directive issued yesterday.

In Uttar Pradesh, observers will now be accompanied by an additional SP level officer to ensure that any law and order issue is dealt with imediately.

Candidates have also been asked to submit a ‘worry list’ to EC indicating booths and areas they apprehend could face trouble on poll day. The Deputy EC said by adopting this measure, the poll authorities can keep a watch on such areas to prevent trouble.

Responding to questions on allegations by the Left and Congress on rigging in Wesat Bengal, he said the EC will take a decision taking all views on account and there cannot be a “unilateral” decision on such issues.

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