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SMS as poll-spend: EC in a bind

Political parties can use cell phone SMS services for poll-related publicity without having to show it as poll expenditure. Chief Electoral Officer is still to figure out how to pinpoint amount spent for such SMS to voters, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2003 12:57 IST

Political parties can use cell phone SMS services for election-related publicity without having to show it as election expenditure. The office of the Chief Electoral Officer is still to figure out how to pinpoint the exact amount being spent for sending election-related SMS to voters.

The problem is that the expenses incurred from mobile phone usage do not figure in the election expenditure. So it may not be possible for the CEO to ask cell phone service providers whether any special SMS facility is being provided to a certain party or candidate.

Officials say apart from legal hurdles, monitoring SMS messages is not possible. They do not have the system to monitor individual cell phones, which the intelligence services and the Delhi Police have.

CEO Arun Goyal said that so far no instructions on monitoring SMS have been received from the Election Commission.

The Congress and the BJP are, in the meantime, finalising agreements with agencies for sending election campaign slogans through SMS.

"Within a few days you will get our campaign slogan on your cell phone," said Vimal Khurana of
the BJP.

Official’s transfer

The reason behind the removal of KN Sharma, SDM (Chanakya Puri) as returning officer for Gole Market assembly segment is not clear.

Though officials say he was removed on health grounds, government sources said that there is an inquiry pending against him with the Minorities Commission His transfer was sought by Chief-Secretary Shailaja Chandra.

First Published: Nov 08, 2003 12:51 IST