MUMBAI — The Election Commission of India (ECI) is keeping a tab on developments in the country post the Pulwama terror attack and the government response to it in form of air strikes, a top poll panel official said Tuesday.
Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, speaking to reporters, said the ECI is duty-bound to carry out the mandate given to it by the Constitution.
Lavasa was replying to a query on whether the ECI’s schedule for general elections would be affected after the 14 February Pulwama bombing and subsequent government response to it.
The poll officials held a press conference after reviewing preparedness in Maharashtra for the Lok Sabha elections.
The press meet was held hours after the Indian Air Force conducted air strikes against terror camps in Pakistan.
“The Election Commission does keep a watch on all the developments which take place. And we are duty-bound to carry out our mandate which has been given by the Constitution,” Lavasa said.
He said Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) would be used at all the polling booths along with EVMs machines in the state.
VVPT is an independent printer system attached with EVMs that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended.
Asked if the the ECI is seriously mulling imposing a ban on print media on taking advertisements on election day, Lavasa said the issue of applying a `silence period’ 48 hours ahead of voting is being deliberated for some time now.
“Even in the conference of political parties held last year, this issue had come up. The ECI, after due consultation and examination, had made recommendations to the government for making an amendment in the Representation of the People Act to cover print media in the 48 hours silence period,” Lavasa said.
Representatives of political parties have apprised the poll panel about duplication in electoral-roll and sought a scrutiny to ensure a purified E-roll, he said.
On the claim by the Congress of duplication of voter IDs, Lavasa said the ECI has already instructed Maharashtra’s Chief Electoral Officer to initiate a scrutiny and they should be able to submit a report about it in the next 15 days.
He said some parties have voiced concern for people who are unable to get themselves enrolled in voters’ list due to lack of residence proof as they stay either in rented houses or temporary shelters in the city.
“Political parties also mentioned that all newly registered voters should be helped in getting their photo identity cards as quickly as possible,” he said.