GUWAHATI: Chief election commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora today hinted that the Assam Assembly elections would be held before the Rongali Bihu festivities in April this year.
“Representatives of various political parties said an election schedule before Bihu will encourage more voter turnout and would help avoid the period of monsoon too … Sensitivities about Bihu festival dates will be taken cognizance of and factored in while drawing up the schedule of election dates accordingly,” Arora said.
The CEC also said that the number of polling stations would be increased to reduce the maximum number of voters from 1500 to 1000 at a polling station in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Accordingly for Assam, the number of polling stations would go up by about 5000 and likely to be more than 33000 for forthcoming elections,” the ECI said.
“Keeping in view of the Covid norms of ensuring social distancing, the party representatives desired that number of polling booths be increased and list of such auxiliary polling booths also be made available, on time, so that parties can organise their own booth committees and logistics in time,” said Arora.
The CEC and election commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Sushil Chandra was on a three-day tour of the state to assess poll preparedness since Monday.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) team said that it put special emphasis on the need for adequate security particularly at the remote polling stations and deployment of sufficient security personnel.
“Some representatives drew attention of the Commission of deputing observers from outside the state. Among other issues, some political party representatives desired that expenditure limits should be increased too,” and ECI handout said.
The ECI also took cognizance of concern for misuse of social media by political parties for spreading communal speeches, misuse of government machinery, misuse of money power and COVID-19 protocol violations etc.
Prevailing norms stipulate deployment of experienced officers as observers from outside the state in every election. Special observers can also be deployed in sensitive/critical constituencies/districts to monitor and ensure free and fair polling. The Commission team met representatives of various political parties and reviewed poll preparedness work of district election officers /superintendents of police/ commissioners of police, divisional commissioners and inspectors general of police. It also discussed election preparedness with Assam chief secretary, director general of police, home secretary and other senior officials such as chief electoral officer, police nodal officer and central armed police force nodal officer etc.
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