With the announcement of assembly polls in Punjab and four other states expected by January 4, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has sent an advisory to chief electoral officers (CEO) of these states to get into action immediately for subsequent enforcement of the model code of conduct.
Along with the CEOs, chief secretaries have also been told to pitch in and make arrangements for activating flying squads soon after the announcement to check flow of liquor, cash and narcotics.
Punjab CEO VK Singh, who has been called to Delhi for a meeting with chief election commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi on January 3, hinted of the poll announcement soon after. Speaking on arrangements once the poll code is imposed, he said the entire machinery was in place and he was waiting for the announcement.
The communiqué has also asked the CEOs to put in place a complaint monitoring system and activate the toll-free number 1950 besides SMS service and a website to receive the complaints and track the action taken by district-level poll officers.
“All unauthorised political advertisements in the form of wall paintings or posters at all public places, such as railway stations, bus stands, airports, railway bridges, roads, government buses and electric or telephone poles, should be removed within 48 hours from the announcement of the polls,” state the directions to the poll-bound states of Punjab, Goa, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
The communication, received from ECI senior principal secretary RK Srivastava, also seeks a ban within 24 hours on use of official vehicles by any political party, candidate or other persons connected with poll campaigning. “No advertisement be issued in electronic, and print media, highlighting the achievement of the government at the cost of the public exchequer,” the directions add, besides calling for removal of photographs of politicians from central or state government websites. The EC has already started the process to check “paid news” given by politicians, particularly in the print media.