EC seeks report on Mamata's railway scheme

test sharma | Updated: March 18, 2011, 5:45 PM IST

Thiruvanathapuram: In the wake of the poll schedule announced for five states including West Bengal, the Election Commission has sought a report from the Railway Board on the scheme to provide free rail travel to girl students
announced in the Railway budget. Disclosing this to reporters here, Chief Election Commissioner Y S Quraishi said the EC was awaiting the report and would take a decision on the issue after receiving it.

Quraishi was answering a query on CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury's comment that EC did not apply the same yardstick on Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's new scheme while banning implementation of the 'rice for Rs.two per kg' scheme of
CPI-M-led LDF government in poll-bound Kerala.

The EC ordered an inquiry based on media reports about Yechury's comments. "We will not show any discrimination to any states," he said but added EC would not allow any programmes that are meant to influence voters. On EC stand on 'rice for Rs 2 per kg', he said as the matter was before the Kerala High court, EC would inform the court about its position.

Quraishi, who along with Election Commissioner V S Sampath and H S Brahma held meetings with top state government and police officials on the preparations for April 13 assembly polls, said there would be strict monitoring of expenditure of
each candidates.

As part of the new expenditure guidelines, all candidates have to open a bank account for election expenditure, he said. CEC's expenditure observers would closely watch the expenditure of each candidate.Instructions have been issued to ensure that no violation of the model code of conduct takes place in any of the five states going to polls, he said.

Adequate number of central forces would be deployed for the smooth conduct of polls. To check malpractices and irregularities, cameras would be installed in booths. For the first time in Kerala, EC has decided to have web-casting from some polling stations, he said. This would be in addition to the cameras installed at polling stations and video photographing of voting in booths.

The government advertisements about new schemes on TV channels would not be allowed henceforth as it came under model code of conduct,he said. Similarly, government hoardings with pictures of sitting MLAs put up on road sides referring to new works had been asked to be removed, he said.

Referring to the total number of voters in Kerala, the CEC said the state has 2,29,47,469 voters of which 1,19,55,631 were women. Kerala has more women voters than men. On the question of NRI's voting rights, he said so far 7120
NRIs have registerd with the Commission in Kerala. "They can vote at the polling stations where they are registered. They have to be physically present at the time of voting. No e-voting or postal voting is allowed to them."

On whether Kerala Congress (B) leader R Balakrishna Pillai, who is serving one year jail term in a graft case could contest the polls, Quraishi said any person whose name was in the electoral roll could contest. But whether the guidelines of disqualification mentioned in the Representation of People Act might apply in the specific case could be known only after verifying the facts, he said.

State Chief Electoral Officer Nalini Netto was also present.

First Published: March 18, 2011, 5:45 PM IST

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