THE MUCH-AWAITED visit of Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswamy failed to clear the mist over possible Vidhan Sabha poll dates with the CEC on Thursday asserting that a decision would be taken in this regard in the next few days.
He said a detailed poll programme would be announced after publication of electoral rolls on January 3, 2007.
Some political parties want the polls between mid-February to mid-March 2007 while others are in favour of holding the polls afterwards in view of the Ardh Kumbh and the high school and intermediate examinations, said the CEC adding, “We will take a decision in consultation with two election commissioners in the next few days.”
Asked if the EC would favour the dates suggested by Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, the CEC said, “The Election Commission takes inputs from everyone.”
In Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh too the EC had received requests suggesting dates for the polls, said the CEC adding that the EC, however, took its own decision there. The CEC remained non-committal on whether UP polls would be clubbed with elections to Punjab, Uttaranchal and Manipur assemblies or held separately. Replying to a question on whether the outcome of elections in other states would have no impact on UP polls, the CEC said this question would become relevant only if the EC decided to hold the UP polls after the elections in other states. At the same time, he scoffed at speculations that poll dates may be stretched beyond May 14, 2007 when the Vidhan Sabha completes five years from the date of its first sitting.
“I will be held responsible for contempt of Constitution if I think of dates beyond May 14, 2007,” said the CEC, asserting that the EC would ensure free and fair polls in UP, as was done in Bihar and West Bengal etc.
“Most of the political parties have demanded deployment of Central Para Military Forces (CPMF) and outside observers,” he said adding that other problems like law and order etc. would be taken into account as and when the EC announced the poll programme.
At the moment the focus was more on preparation of revised electoral rolls and the photo identity cards for the voters, he said. In all, requests to add 49.47 lakh voters were made during the ongoing revision of electoral rolls, said the CEC adding, this was for the first time that 10.61 lakh objections were filed against the requested additions to the electoral rolls.
The EC had to pass orders on each and every such objection, he said adding that the EC’s top priority was to ensure that electoral rolls were through by January 3, 2006.
At the meeting of the divisional commissioners, the EC wanted fast distribution of photo identity cards. In all 88.44 lakh photo identity cards had been prepared, he said adding that of them only about 7 lakh had been distributed.