Poll panel braces to hold Karnataka assembly polls by May

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 02, 2013 14:20 hrs

Bangalore, March 2 (IANS) The Election Commission of India is bracing up to conduct election to the Karnataka legislative assembly by May as the five-year term of the present house (13th) ends June 3.

"We will soon announce the date(s) for holding election to the state assembly after final consultations in New Delhi with the authorities concerned, including the union home ministry on the availability of central forces for deploying in the state on the polling dates," Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath told reporters here Saturday.

The three-member poll panel, including Election Commissioners H.S. Brahma and Nasim Zaidi has been in the city since Friday to assess the preparation for the ensuing assembly election and ascertain views of the political parties and top officials concerned.

Of the 225-member assembly seats, 224 are elected from across the state and one member is nominated to give representation to the Anglo-Indian community in the state.

"We had constructive discussions with seven political parties, including, national, regional and new entities to conduct fair and peaceful poll. We will consider their suggestions and inputs to prevent malpractices and violation of the model code of conduct (MCC) that will come into force the day polling dates are announced in due course," Sampath said.

The state has 41.9 million strong electorate and 50,446 polling stations. Around 99 percent of voters across the state have electoral photo identity card (EPIC).

"All the parties have assured us to extend full cooperation to conduct the poll in fair, free and peaceful manner. On our part, we will ensure strict enforcement of the MCC and stringent action will be taken against distribution of money, liquor and other inducements. We expect officials deputed on election duty to maintain neutrality till the entire process ends," Sampath said.

As some of the parties have requested to hold the election on a single day than in two or three phases, the CEC said the poll panel would take a call after ascertaining with the home ministry on the availability of forces and other factors such as weather and polling personnel required.

"The political parties have sought a single-window clearance for electioneering, including political rallies, public meetings and door-to-door campaigning to save time and energy of contestants and their polling agents. We will consider the request and direct the administrative machinery to avoid clearances from multiple agencies," Sampath pointed out.

To ensure maximum voting percentage, the poll panel has directed the state election commission to revise electoral rolls and carry out corrections (if any) till the last date of nomination.

"In addition to voters' identity cards (EPIC), we will issue a voter's identification slip on the eve of the polling date with the voter's picture, polling booth where he/she can cast the vote and other relevant details," Sampath said.

The three-member poll panel also held a day-long meeting with top officials, including deputy commissioners of the respective districts, state director-general of police, chief secretary and other secretaries concerned on making fool-proof arrangements for holding the election.

"We have made it clear to the officials concerned that honesty, integrity and neutrality are expected from every polling personnel and no lapses will be tolerated on their part," Sampath added.

The poll panel also warned political parties, their candidates and cadres of strict action against paid news menace, which seriously impedes the election process.

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