Much awaited visit of Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswamy failed to clear the mist over possible poll dates with CEC asserting that a decision would be taken in next few days and a detailed poll programme would be announced after publication of electoral rolls on January 3, 2007.
Some political parties have favoured Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha poll between mid-February to mid-March 2007 while others were in favour holding poll after these dates in view of the Ardh Kumbh and the high school and the intermediate examinations, said the CEC adding "We will take a decision in consultation with two Election Commissioners in the next few days."
Observers though feel that the EC remained favourably inclined to hold the poll after February-2007 the CEC remained non-committal about poll dates. Asked if EC would go by the dates suggested by Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav the CEC said "Election Commission takes inputs from everyone. Final decision however remains with the EC."
In Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh too the EC had received requests suggesting dates for the poll, said the CEC adding that EC took its own decision there. The CEC remained non-committal on whether UP’s poll would be clubbed with elections to Punjab, Uttaranchal and Manipur assemblies or held separately.
Relying to a question on whether the outcome of other state elections would have no impact on UP’s poll the CEC said this question would become relevant only if the EC decided to hold the UP poll after elections to other state assemblies. 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 while asserting that the EC would ensure free and fair poll 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 the law and order etc. would be perceived 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 that 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 divisional commissioners also the EC emphasised that the distribution of photo identity cards be expedited. In all 88.44 lakh photo identity cards have been prepared, he said adding that only about 7 lakh of them have been distributed.
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