Taking a serious note of illegal use of money power by candidates and political parties and violation of expenditure norms, the Election Commission has decided to track such instances closely for follow-up action.
The Commission has already issued detailed guidelines on the manner in which accounts are to be maintained and submitted by candidates and it is incumbent upon them to maintain a daily account of expenditure and to submit it to the designated officer/election observer three times during campaign period, Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami told a press conference here on Monday.
“To strengthen monitoring, the Commission will be taking special steps. A cell comprising experts drawn from the Income Tax Department will also be set up in the Commission to deal with information on poll expenses of the candidates.”
“Only the expenses on account of travel of leaders of the political party concerned [whose names are communicated to the Commission and the Chief Electoral Officer of the State within the prescribed period of seven days from the date of notification] will be exempted from being included in the account of expenses of a candidate. All other expenses — incurred/authorised by the parties, other associations, body of persons, and individuals — are required to be included in the account of the candidate.”
Returning Officers have been told to display copies of the affidavits filed by candidates on the noticeboard. Copies of the affidavits would also be made freely available to other candidates, the public and the media.
The Commission has directed the CEOs to set up voter helplines and assistance booths near polling stations and web-based search facilities to locate names in the voter list, and issued guidelines to take special measures to facilitate voting by the physically challenged.
The CEC said a booth at Banej in Gujarat’s Junagadh district would have a single voter.
A polling station in Chhattisgarh would have only two voters and three booths in Arunachal Pradesh, three voters each.
The CEC expressed the hope that all stakeholders — political parties, candidates, the voters and the election machinery — would appreciate the need for restraint and discipline to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections.