Election Commission has zero-tolerance to money and muscle power: CEC Arora

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Election Commission has zero-tolerance to money and muscle power: CEC Arora

With political partiesapprehending violence and unrest in poll-bound West Bengal,Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Friday said thecommission has zero-tolerance to money and muscle power andmisuse of the government machinery.

The CEC also said no civic police volunteers will bedeployed for the upcoming assembly elections in the state.

”The commission has zero-tolerance to money and musclepower or misuse of government machinery,” the CEC toldreporters here.

He said the EC’s expenditure observer will take stepsto prevent misuse of money power.

The full bench of the ECI, which is currently in thestate to review preparedness for the assembly polls due inApril-May, held meetings with representatives of politicalparties, senior government officials and police officers.

Asked about incidents of violence ahead of theassembly elections in the state, Arora said, ”We would like toreview events of serious crimes which have political overtonesand examine them on a case-to-case basis.” To a related question about the EC taking actionagainst those involved in incidents of hurling stones atpolitical meetings and processions, the CEC said, ”Thecommission can act only after the election dates areannounced. We will take a series of measures and not allowbike rallies after the model code of conduct comes intoforce.” Claiming that West Bengal is witnessing politicalviolence in the run-up to the elections, opposition partieshave urged the full bench of the ECI to ensure that free andfair polls are held in the state.

The ruling Trinamool Congress alleged that the BSF isthreatening people in the border areas of the state to casttheir votes in favour of a particular political party.

The Border Security Force, however, denied the TMC’sallegation, saying that it was ”baseless” and ”far from thetruth”.

Describing the allegation against the BSF as”unfortunate”, Arora said it is one of the finest forces inthe country.

He said the political party concerned should come upwith facts to support its allegation.

Several parties voiced concerns over law and ordersituation in the state, while issues like fake news on socialmedia and provocative slogans with communal overtone have alsobeen flagged by them, the CEC said.

Asked about allegations that a large number ofelectors were not allowed to cast votes in the 2018 Panchayatpolls, Arora said the State Election Commission conducts thepolls to the local bodies.

”The ECI will ensure that there is no irregularity andevery voter is allowed to cast vote in a free and fair mannerin the assembly polls. We know how to get it done,” he said.

Arora said the full bench of the ECI asked the state’schief secretary and home secretary to look into the issues offake information in the social media raised by politicalparties.

According to the CEC, the chief secretary and the homesecretary of the state said that they are following the EC’sguidelines in letter and spirit.

He said there will be 1,01,790 polling stations forthe 2021 assembly elections in the state and every boothshould be made accessible to all persons with disabilities.


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