Friday, March 4, 2011
CEO justifies election schedule
Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar on Thursday sought to justify the Election Commission's decision on the election schedule for the Assembly elections.
Addressing a crowded press conference at Fort St. George here, the CEO said the Commission, while drawing up the election schedule, had taken into account a number of factors such as the requirement of paramilitary forces. Besides, the Commission saw four States and the Union Territory of Puducherry as one block so that the principle of apparent impact did not operate anywhere. This was why the date of announcement of elections in Tamil Nadu or Kerala had been determined only after the poll process was completed in West Bengal.
Pointing out that the Assembly election in Assam would be over (April 11) ahead of Tamil Nadu, he said Kerala would face the elections on the same day (April 13) Tamil Nadu would be having. So, it was not unique to Tamil Nadu that it had to wait for a month to know the results.
In 2006, Tamil Nadu was covered in the last leg of the polls while, now, it would see the elections in the middle.
To a question whether the elections in Tamil Nadu would be postponed, the CEO replied, “I cannot answer it.” He hastened to add that “normally” it was not done once the schedule was announced.
The views of political parties in Tamil Nadu about the date of the Assembly election, including the remarks of DMK president and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, have been conveyed to the Election Commission, Mr. Praveen Kumar said. Asked by reporters whether the concerns of Mr. Karunanidhi, who had wondered what the EC's compulsions were in fixing April 13 as the date of polling, and other parties would be conveyed to the Commission, Mr. Kumar responded, “For your information, we convey [to the EC] every day [as to what is happening in the State].”
On the rate of conviction of those who were found to have indulged in electoral malpractices since 2006, the CEO said that so far, three convictions had taken place. Several other cases were pending before courts.
On the strength of paramilitary forces to be requisitioned, he replied that the decision had not yet been taken.
Apart from the requirement of the State, the needs of other States, which would be going to the polls, and the position of the Union Home Affairs Ministry had to be considered.
On the transmission of bulk messages sent through mobile phones, the CEO said this would be treated like an advertisement insertion.
As regards his directive on the distribution of free colour television sets, he explained that this was done as a pre-emptive move.
He reiterated that no new beneficiaries could be identified and given any assistance. No tenders should be invited hereafter. If tenders had been invited before the model code of conduct had come into force, no contracts should be awarded.
In case contracts had been awarded, no work orders could be issued now. If work orders had been given, the work should not be allowed to be taken up. He also clarified that there was no bar if the execution of works was under way.