With less than a month left for the Punjab assembly elections, the Ludhiana administration is all set to come down heavily on violators of the code of conduct as a total of 187 teams comprising of election observers, expenditure observers, flying squads, static surveillance teams, video-viewing teams as well as assistant expenditure observers have been formed to ensure that elections are conducted in a free and unbiased manner.
Starting from one assistant expenditure observer who will be there in each of the 14 assembly segments, a total of 46 video surveillance teams (VST) divided into a set of three teams for each of the assembly segments will maintain a round the clock vigil. These video surveillance teams will monitor the rallies organised by party leaders, the statements made by politicians at rallies by conducting videography.
Addressing a news conference here, Ludhiana deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat said 14 video-viewing teams and another 14 accounting teams (one each per assembly segment) have also been formed. The members of the accounting team will supervise and audit the accounts of the contesting candidates.
In addition, a total of 43 flying-squad teams (three per assembly segment) and another 44 state surveillance teams have been constituted. The flying squads have been formed to register cases against both bribe seekers and givers. Action will also be taken against those engaging in threat and intimidation of electors.
The flying squads and the surveillance teams will be working in coordination with the income tax and excise departments in their areas. They will keep a watch on the activities of candidates, seek the assistance of the local intelligence units and act upon tip-offs regarding the use of illegal means to influence voters.
The squads will conduct raids following information about the distribution of liquor, money or any other material among the voters and will initiate action against erring candidates and their associates. Each operation will be captured on video and copies sent to the Election Cell.
They will also be responsible for conducting searches at the foreign-made and country liquor shops in coordination with the excise department officials to check the stocks in order to monitor bulk purchases.
The static surveillance teams will also be organising nakas to check on the heavy inflow of cash or liquor meant to be distributed amongst the voters.
A separate team for ensuring that code of conduct is implemented will go around the district and any posters, banners, hoardings that are pasted on walls of public/private buildings without the consent of the owner will be removed by the team. In the case of government premises, these will be removed and action will be taken against the party candidate.
Ravi Bhagat added that besides the Election Commission of India (ECI) toll-free number 1950, a district-level complaint monitoring control room will be established in the room number 25 of the DC office, Ludhiana. One dedicated email address firstname.lastname@example.org has been created for receiving complaints regarding election-related activities. He said that assistant commissioner (grievances) has been appointed as the district nodal officer for complaints redressal and IT application ‘Samadhan’.
Three apps to be used for elections
Three I-T applications will be used in Punjab vidhan sabha election 2017, namely Samadhan, Suvidha and Sugam. The link for Samadhan web application is available on the official website of CEP Punjab, www.ceopunjab.nic.in to upload complaints by public, political parties and candidates. Suvidha is a single window system for candidates and political parties to apply for permissions for meetings, rallies, vehicles, temporary election office, loudspeakers, helicopters and helipads etc, while Sugam is a single window system for vehicle management. The candidates can also check the prices of various items of election expenditure on the website, www.ceopunjab.nic.in.
Sponsored ads to be included in overall expenditure
Deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat on Thursday said that the ‘sponsored’ advertisements on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and others will be included in the total election expenditure of the candidate. He said that voice messages of candidates, even if they are received from other states, would also be added to the election expenditure of the candidate.
Printing presses to be under scanner
The printing press owners are required to print the names and addresses of a printer and publisher of any election pamphlets, posters and such other material printed by them. Any violation will invite stern action including the revocation of the licence of the printing press. The candidates can install hoardings of the size 8 feet by 4 feet only. The district administration has demanded 16 paramilitary forces for Ludhiana district and three companies have already reached.
VVPAT in 2 assembly segments
Polling booths across Raikot and Atam Nagar constituencies will have voter identified paper audit trail (VVPAT) in which the voters can verify whether their votes have been cast correctly.