The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Mr. Navin Chawla today warned of severe action against “surrogate candidates”, a new phenomenon the EC had stumbled upon during the recent Assembly polls in six States.
In some of those States, “we noted surrogate candidates”, who as Independents in the fray took their entitlements like three vehicles, publicity materials and so on, but assisted the main party candidates, Mr. Chawla told reporters here.
Speaking after a review meeting on the poll preparedness for the coming Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu along with its Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Naresh Gupta and other officials, the CEC said there will be more cameras monitoring such surrogacy this time.
If any such instance of ‘surrogate candidacy’ came to light in any Lok Sabha constituency, “we will put their expenditure on the expenses of the candidate concerned,” Mr. Chawla made clear, adding, “let them receive this as a warning.”
Mr. Chawla expressed satisfaction that both in the issuance of the electors’ photo-identity card (EPIC) and in preparation of photo electoral rolls, over 97 per cent of the electorate in Tamil Nadu had been covered so far, “the highest by any standards in the country.”
There will also be more senior officers of the Income-Tax department who will be reporting to the EC on candidates exceeding the prescribed expenditure limits, he said and added that the EC “has zero tolerance to any model code violations.” In the last Assembly elections in Karnataka for instance, “over Rs.40 Crores worth cash and materials was seized by us,” he noted.
On some Samajwadi Party workers caught on camera yesterday (in U.P.) giving cash to people on the occasion of ‘Holi’, Mr Chawla asked, “are they candidates now in the first place?” With regards to model code violation charges against the Andhra Pradesh DGP, Mr SS. Yadav, who reportedly praised that State’s Chief Minister, Mr. YS Rajashekara Reddy, the CEC said a full meeting of the Commission at Hyderabad tomorrow will examine the issue.