Chandigarh, September 21: The Chief Electoral Officer, Haryana Mr. Anurag Agarwal said that all necessary arrangements have been made for the conduct of Vidhan Sabha Elections in the State in a free, fair and transparent manner. Voting for all the 90 assembly seats would be held on October 21, 2019, and counting of votes would take place on October 24, 2019.
Mr. Agarwal who was addressing press conference here today said that with the announcement of election program by Election Commission of India (ECI) today, Model Code of Conduct has come into effect.
He said that the notification would be issued on September 27, 2019, and the last date for filing nominations would be October 4, 2019. He said that scrutiny of nomination papers would be done on October 5 and the candidates could withdraw their nominations by October 7. He said that the Election Commission, all Deputy Commissioners, and Returning Officers are geared up for conducting the elections in completely transparency and ethical manner.
Mr. Agarwal said that after the second revision of electoral list on August 27, 2019, the final voter list has been published as per which 1.83 crore voters including 1.07 lakh service voters would exercise their right to franchise. He said that as the process for updating the electoral roll in progress, the number of voters is expected to be further increased.
The Chief Electoral Officer said that 19,442 voting centers have been established in the State including 5,511 in urban areas and 13,931 in rural areas. There are 10,288 polling locations in the State, he said adding that polling stations where the number of voters is more than 1500, request have been made to the ECI for converting these polling stations into Auxiliary polling stations. The number of such polling stations in the State is 136. He said that there are 26,329 control units and 40,615 ballot units. Besides, an arrangement of 27,996 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines have been made.
While giving details about the arrangement made in the State for the conduct of the elections, he said that on the direction of ECI, Returning Officers (ROs) and Assistant Returning Officers (AROs) have been appointed in all 90 assembly segments. In all, 90 ROs and 180 AROs have been appointed in the State. He said that apart from this adequate manpower has been made available and required number of polling parties and micro observers has been appointed. The Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and VVPAT have been installed in the districts as per the requirement and also first level checking has been conducted along with the representatives of political parties. Also, adequate quantity of stationery has been made available and forms have been got published or purchased, he added.
Mr. Agarwal said that this time the Election Commission has adopted a tough stance against the defacement of property which is an important election of Model Code of Conduct. He said that directions have been issued to all the Deputy Commissioners for carrying out a different set of activities in the next 72 hours. He said that they would ensure that political slogans and photographs of leaders wherever pasted on the government buildings would be removed within 24 hours. Similarly, in the next 24 hours, the focus would be given on the removal of slogans, posters, and banners related to any politician or political parties on the public places in violation of Model Code of Conduct. In the remaining 24 hours, such publicity material would have to be removed from the private buildings. He said that the DCs would make sure that within 72 hours, the entire violations would be taken care off.
Regarding the misuse of official vehicles during elections, he said that no Ministers, MLA or their representative could make use of official vehicle except for going to official work from his residence to office. Intermixing of official work into political work would not be allowed, he asserted. He said that the Election Commission has activated the c-VIGIL app from tomorrow onward and anyone could upload the photographs regarding the violation of MCC on this app. The concerned Deputy Commissioner or CEO would verify the complaint and necessary action would be taken as per the law within 100 minutes. The complaint would be tracked and make sure that each complaint received on this portal is addressed in a prescribed time frame. Each complainant would be provided with a ticket number through which he could see the status of his complaint on his device or computer.
Mr. Agarwal said that 1950 voter helpline service is functional round the clock. In case a citizen dial this helpline number from the district, his call would go to the call center in his district and if it is dialed from Chandigarh, the call would go the call center established in the office of CEO, Haryana. Regarding the issue of paid news, he said that the District Level Media certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) and State Level Media certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) have been constituted. While at the district level, the Committee would be chaired by the respective Deputy Commissioner, at State Level it would be chaired by the CEO.
He said that in case any political party wants to release an advertisement through electronic media, he has to take prior approval through the MCMC. In case his application is rejected by the District Level Media certification and Monitoring Committee, he could appeal before the State Level Media certification and Monitoring Committee. In case, his application is also rejected by the State Level Committee, he could appeal to the Election Commission of India. Pre-certification is important for advertisement in electronic media, he said adding that electronic media means not only channels but social media also.
The Chief Electoral Officer said 24 state-level nodal officers have been appointed for the monitoring of election expenditure of the candidates. He said that the Income Tax Department has started a toll-free number 1800-180-4815 and if anyone found the movement of cash, he could inform the same on this number. Immediate action would be taken on his complaint, he added.
He said that the voter turnout in 2014 Vidhan Sabha election was 76.5 percent. To further enhance the participation of people in this festival of democracy, a one-month vigorous campaign would be launched in the State.
In reply to a question, he said that the Haryana Defacement of Property Act does not allow any banner, slogan to be written on the private house with or without permission. Clear instruction in this regard would be given this time.
In reply to another question, he said that we have requested the Election Commission of India and Union Ministry of Home Affairs for 200 companies of paramilitary forces.
Asked about the number of youth voters, he said 3.64 lakh voters of the age group of 18 to 19 years would cast their votes in the assembly elections this time.
When asked about the movement of cash, Mr. Agarwal said that a person can take cash of maximum Rs 10 lakh along with him and in case he is found with cash of more than Rs 10 lakh, he would be enquired about the same by a team constituted for this purpose. Similarly, in case of an amount more than Rs, 10 lakh is credited to his account, the concerned bank officer would give information to the Election Expenditure Observer who would inquire the matter. Mr. Agarwal advised the people that in case they are carrying more than Rs 50,000, they should take along documents showing the place as well as purpose of withdrawal.
Among those present on this occasion included Additional Chief Electoral Officer Mr. D.K Behera and Joint Chief Electoral Officers namely Dr. Inder Jeet and Mr. Apurv Kumar.