Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Elections could be postponed if malpractices take place: TN CEO

Chief Electoral Officer of Tamil Nadu, Praveen Kumar seen addressing the media recently. Photo: R. Ravindran
Admitting that incidents of money distribution were occurring despite its strong measures for Wednesday’s Tamil Nadu Assembly polls, the Election Commission warned for the second day on Tuesday that it may postpone elections in areas where the malpractice takes place.
“The Commission is strictly watching... We are getting reports (of money distribution) from micro-observers and civil society groups. We may consider postponing or countermanding (the polls in those areas) if there are any such incidents,” Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar told reporters here.
Asked whether the Election Commission would consider postponing or countermanding the polls, he said, “Still there is enough time for us. Even after polls we may consider (postponing or cancelling).”
Asked whether the EC had been able to stop the distribution of money, he admitted that though strong measures have been taken, some incidents were still happening.
“I cannot say we have stopped it 100 per cent. Commission has been able to restrict to a larger level and open play of money has been changed into a underground play,” he said.
Mr. Kumar appealed to voters to cast their vote as per their “conscience” and without any “fear.”
Stating that web cameras have been installed to monitor the activities in all the polling stations, he said, “All the 9,500 polling stations have a camera installed. But the location of compartment is kept in such a way that no one will be able to know (to which party you are voting).”
He said 240 companies of para-military forces and about 1.50 lakh police personnel were deployed in all the polling stations. “There will be either static or flying squad in polling booths,” he said.
Mr. Kumar said about Rs 34 crore had been seized so far as “unaccounted money” in the run up to the elections while Monday alone Rs 30 lakh was seized. The EC has also been returning to their rightful owners the seized money on producing the relevant documents.
Mr. Kumar also said nobody would be able to know as to which candidate the voters have have cast their ballot as the EC would mix or merge the EVMs in one polling booth with other EVMs in other polling booth.
About 61,900 cases had been booked for violation of Model Code of Conduct, out of which a majority was registered for “defacement” and the number of cases registered for distribution of money was 1,253, he said.

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