August 18, 2022

Poll preparedness review done, updated rolls published: Way paved for EC to announce assembly poll dates | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: With the Election Commission having completed poll preparedness review for all the five poll-bound states, and the updated rolls for Uttar Pradesh (with January 1, 2022 as the reference date), published on Wednesday, the way is paved for the EC to announce dates for the assembly polls in UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. Discussions on deployment of Central para-military forces have also been reportedly finalised between EC and MHA officials.
EC is also known to be reviewing its Covid guidelines, keeping in mind the evolving situation and the assessment shared with it by the health ministry as well as the state governments concerned. As per sources, the Commission shall not pull the plug on physical rallies but may impose stricter curbs, besides also issuing an advisory to the political parties to exercise self-restraint and try to campaign as much as possible through the digital mode and hold smaller jan-sabhas. There is also ample indication that roadshows may be banned, since it is not practical to curb the number of participants which keep growing as the roadshow moves. Online filing of nominations will be stressed upon.
A source indicated that Covid norms for physical rallies will be dynamic and revised from time to time as per the changing situation in the poll-bound states.
While an extra hour of polling will be allowed, the number of voters per polling station has also been cut from the usual 1500 to 1200-1250 to help maintain social distancing. The Commission is also likely to make the State Disaster Management Authority responsible for ensuring that the Covid norms are strictly enforced by the respective state and district administrations. EC, on its part, will also closely monitor the adherence to Covid guidelines by the political party campaigners and candidates as well enforcement of the same by the district administration. In the event of a lapse, strict action may be ordered against the errant officers and even campaigners who violate EC’s Covid instructions.
Sources told TOI that the expenditure limit for candidates may be enhanced from the current Rs 22 lakh-Rs 30.8 lakh for upcoming and all future assembly polls to around Rs 35-38 lakh and also for future Lok Sabha polls from the highest limit of Rs 77 lakh to a few lakh short of Rs 1 crore.
TOI has also learnt that a huge number of para-military and state armed police forces may be deployed for polls in UP and, to a lesser extent, in Punjab and Manipur. A source indicated that UP may have over 1 lakh security personnel deployed across all phases, which may go up to 7-8.
On Wednesday, the EC reviewed poll preparedness in Manipur, holding discussions via video-conference with the political parties, chief secretary and DGP and district election officers. Most parties raised concerns about the use of money power, illicit liquor, narcotics drugs and intimidation to influence voters. They requested for strict vigil on election expenses by candidates. While expressing concerns about pre-poll violence, the political parties demanded deployment of adequate security forces during the poll process. The parties also raised concerns about implementation of strict Covid protocols for safety of everybody.

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