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Poll panel ready to work as per legal provisions: CEC on ‘One Nation, One Election’
9/6/2023 11:14:34 PM

Bhopal, Sept 6: The Election Commission of India is ready to act as per constitutional provisions and the Representative of the People (RP) Act, said Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar on Wednesday in the context of ‘one nation, one election’.
Kumar and other top ECI officials were on a visit to Bhopal to hold meetings with political parties and the administration and enforcement agencies over election preparedness in BJP-governed Madhya Pradesh, where polls are due by November.
The final voters’ list will be published on October 5, he said. The state has nearly 5.5 crore voters, he said.
Responding to a question on the concept of ‘one nation, one election, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) said that the poll commission is required to “deliver elections before the time” as per constitutional provisions and the RP Act. This time, according to legal provisions, is five years from the date of the first sitting of Parliament after a new government is formed. The ECI can announce the general elections six months before the end of this time, Kumar said. The norms are similar for assembly elections.
The ECI is mandated and ready to deliver elections as per legal provisions, he said.
The Centre last week formed a high-level committee under former president Ram Nath Kovind to explore the feasibility of holding simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha, state assemblies and local bodies, bringing ‘one nation, one election’, under the spotlight.
To a question about e-voting, CEC said it will take time as the process is vulnerable to hacking and also has trust issues.
Technology is not an issue and the current process is not connected to a network but “discussion on this (e-voting) is going on and it will take time to evolve”, he said.
The final voters’ list for MP polls will be published on October 5, said Kumar and urged new eligible voters to get enrolled and apply for correction if they find any discrepancies in their data.
Asked about the possibility of “misuse of online transactions” in the run-up to polls, the CEC said financial institutions are told to keep a watch on suspicious and bulk transactions and alert authorities concerned.
Madhya Pradesh has 5.52 crore voters, including 2.85 crore male and 2.67 female electors. The state also has 1,336 transgender persons, 4.85 lakh people with disabilities, 7.12 lakh voters aged above 80 years, 6,180 people who are more than 100 years old, 18.86 lakh new voters and 75,426 service voters.
Kumar said ECI is putting in place a system to enable senior citizens and persons with disabilities to vote from their homes in the upcoming polls if they apply for the same.
Such voters can request through an online form to vote from home, he said. Election officials will visit the homes of such voters and ensure voting with confidentiality and also videograph the process in the presence of political parties’ representatives, he said.
The poll commission is also making efforts to increase voting percentage and ensure the participation of women, new voters and other vulnerable tribal groups, he said.
Asked about the current expenses of candidates whose names have already been announced by their parties, Kumar said as per legal provisions, a candidate is needed to keep a tab of their expenditure from the date of nomination till the polling day.
BJP has already announced 39 candidates in Madhya Pradesh, which has 230 assembly seats.
About freebies, the CEC said political parties have the right to inform voters about what they are offering to the electors but they also need to spell out the timeline of fulfilling the promise, the expenditure to be incurred on it and the arrangement of funds.
ECI has made a detailed report in this regard but the issue of freebies in polls is sub-judice with the matter reaching the Supreme Court, he said.
In reply to another question, he said jail inmates are not allowed to vote as per the law.
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