In a rare instance and probably a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Election Commission of India has ordered appointment of micro-observers at all the 188 polling booths for the Moga byelection scheduled for Saturday.
The ECI has also ordered installation of cameras besides deployment of the central paramilitary forces at all booths. It is closely monitoring the election process amidst apprehensions of the Congress that the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was “misusing” official machinery.
In a letter written in response to a complaint by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president and former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, the ECI has said adequate deployment of central paramilitary forces will be made outside the polling stations. Besides, there will be intensive and extensive patrolling by paramilitary forces in the constituency.
Returning officer Joram Beda said the election commission has distributed electronic voting machines (EVMs) and other poll material to the polling staff and sufficient security has been provided at all 188 polling booths.
Beda said all booths are sensitive and the administration is keeping watch over the entire election process.
Addressing the Congress concerns about the presence of outsiders in the constituency, who might influence the voting, the ECI had ordered that all people from outside should be asked to leave the constituency after the campaign period was over on February 22.
The commission added that the Moga returning officer has also been asked to appoint one micro-observer for each polling booth, who should be drawn from among the central government employees only and all the booths should be covered with a video camera or a still photography camera.
The district administration chalked out security arrangements at various places in the town and 45 villages in Moga constituency late Friday evening. Arshdeep Singh Thind, deputy commissioner-cum-district election officer, warned officials of all the departments that no mistake will not be tolerated during the election process. The DC also called on leaders and candidates of all political parties and providing them important notices, which were sent by the election commission and state chief electoral officer.
“Nobody can keep any weapon till the election process is over. I have ordered all station house officers that they will be responsible for deposition of all firearms in urban and rural areas. Nobody is allowed to bring more than Rs. 50,000 into the constituency,” the DEO added.
The police have divided the constituency into 17 sectors and two police patrolling parties have been deployed in each sector. Any complaint can be lodged at the special police control room on phone number 01636-239673 and mobile number 98143-19595, he said.