New Delhi : Should political advertisements in print media be banned 48 hours before the day of polling on the lines of the restriction on electronic media?

This is one of the questions the Election Commission would ask political parties on Monday during an all-party meet convened by it ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls, reports PTI.

“Inclusion of print media within the ambit of section 126(1)(b) of the Representation of the People Act 1951 and issue of online canvassing to promote or prejudice the electoral prospects of a party/candidate on social media during the last 48 hours before conclusion of polling will…be discussed (in the meeting),” an EC statement on the agendas to be discussed, said on Friday.

In 2016, the EC had urged the government to amend the electoral law to bar political advertisements in newspapers 48 hours before the day of polling on the lines of the restriction on electronic media.

The move came as the poll panel had to use its constitutional powers to ban such newspaper advertisements on a case-by-case basis during the Bihar Assembly election in October-November of 2015.

On gender representation in political parties and comparative international experience, the EC would invite views on measures that political parties can undertake to encourage enhanced representation of women within the organisational structure of the political party, as well as in the candidate selection for contesting elections to legislative bodies. All seven registered national political parties and 51 state political parties have been invited to participate in the meeting.

The agenda for the meeting includes discussion on fidelity of electoral rolls. The EC has invited the views of all parties on measures to improve the accuracy, transparency & inclusivity of electoral rolls in view of the upcoming elections to Lok Sabha and the state assemblies.

On the subject of election expenditure regulation, issues related to expenditure ceiling for Legislative Council elections and limiting political party expenditure would be discussed. While candidate have a cap on election expenditure, there is no limit on parties. Discussion on enforcement measures to ensure timely submission of annual audited reports and election expenditure reports are also on the agenda.

Issues related to alternative modes of voting for domestic migrants and absentee voters, feedback of parties on electronic transfer of e-ballot to service personnel and efforts to encourage electoral participation of voters with disabilities is also on the cards.

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