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Central forces will be deployed in all booths in West Bengal elections: EC

On the law and order situation in the state, Zaidi said, “We came here to assess the situation. We have already directed our election machinery to take note of, record and document any incident with political overtones.”

Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi in Kolkata

The Election Commission on Thursday said it is their endeavour to hold the next year’s Assembly polls in West Bengal in free, fair and peaceful manner and deploy central forces and IT-enabled efficient and smart observers for smooth conduct of election process.”The Election Commission will perform its constitutional obligations and ensure that the Assembly elections in West Bengal are held in free, fair and peaceful manner,” Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told a press conference here after a series of meetings with officials and political parties.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There will be 100 per cent availability of central paramilitary forces in all the polling stations. They will be available well in advance and be used for area domination and confidence-building measures,” he said.”The Election Commission-appointed observers will be looking into the boothwise, areawise deployment of the central forces and the observers will be from outside the state,” he said.Asked how the EC will ensure free and fair polls as there are allegations from opposition parties of violence during the Lok Sabha poll, Zaidi said, “As Lok Sabha elections are held throughout the country, the availability of central forces was less. But this time central paramilitary forces will be deployed at every booth. The CPFs will be deployed and supervised directly by the ECI.”On the law and order situation in the state, Zaidi said, “We came here to assess the situation. We have already directed our election machinery to take note of, record and document any incident with political overtones.” Asked how the EC plans to hold a violence-free election as previous polls in Bengal were marred by violence, the CEC said, “As I mentioned, everytime the Election commission has raised the bar and this time also it will be our endeavour to make the election peaceful in the state”. Zaidi said “it has to be seen that no voter is denied the basic right to vote. This responsibility lies with district election officials, DMs and SPs”. He said the commission would continue to assess performance of district election officials and other officials who are likely to be attached with the EC. Depending on the assessment and requirement, the commission would take appropriate action at an appropriate time.”The commission will deploy IT-enabled efficient and smart observers,” he said, adding if required, the number of observers will be enhanced. Asked how many phases the election will have, Zaidi said,” It is too early to say”.Earlier in the day, opposition parties in the state had urged Zaidi to ensure a free and fair poll which should have five to seven phases. The full bench of the poll panel, led by the CEC, held a series of meetings with all political parties, senior government officials and district administrations.Zaidi said around 31 lakh applications for new voters were received, out of which 26 lakh were enrolled. He said three IT-related initiatives have been taken up.”One is “Subidha” which is a single-window system where permissions for holding rallies will be given in 24 hours.” “The second one is “Samadhan”, which is a grievance redressal system such as electoral roll and other problems. The third one is regarding the hiring of transport machinery. The portal will be called “Sugam” which will address issues related to transport operators from whom vehicles are requisitioned,” he said.Stating that the final electoral roll would be released on January 5, 2016, the CEC said “It is, however, subject to continuous updation.” “Similarly in case of wrong deletion there is a system of its redressal,” Zaidi said, adding that the entire matter would be handled effectively.Even as the state has a total of about 77,000 polling booths, the number could be enhanced if required, Zaidi said adding, “The poll panel gives lot of emphasis on providing with basic facilities for the voters and polling personnel in all polling booths.”The CEC also directed all officials in the state, who would be involved with the polling process, to be neutral, fair and impartial in discharging their election duties. Number of polling and expenditure observers could also be increased, if required, he said adding that special observers could also be sent to entirely oversee the law and order situation in the state.”We heard all stake-holders and now we are assessing the situation before initiating appropriate measures,” Zaidi said adding that we have assured the political parties of an effective machinery of the poll panel to ensure a free, fair, peaceful and transparent election in the state. The CEC further said that steps have also been taken to put the persons with criminal antecedents behind the bar well ahead of the polling schedule and take precautionary measures to avoid any untoward incidents during the polling process.

Election Commission to brief media about Bihar Assembly elections today

The Election Commission of India (ECI) will address the media on the upcoming Assembly elections in Bihar at 5 pm in Patna on Saturday.

CEC Nasim Zaidi

The Election Commission of India (ECI) will address the media on the upcoming Assembly elections in Bihar at 5 pm in Patna on Saturday. Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi, along with other senior officials of the Election Commission had arrived in Patna yesterday to assess preparations for the upcoming polls. The EC officials are likely to meet district-level officials today to discuss security plans for the elections.The assembly polls in Bihar, slated for late this year, will be a heated affair, with six parties having merged under the Janata Parivar banner contesting against the BJP and the Congress. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An Election Commission (EC) team led by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi arrived in the state capital on Friday on a two-day visit to assess preparations for the forthcoming Bihar Assembly elections.The CEC, Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Jyoti and Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha met representatives of political parties separately and sought their opinion, suggestions and took their requests with regard to the elections.

CEC favours collegium to choose ECs

He was responding to a question on the recent recommendation of the Law Commission that the appointment of Election Commissioners, including the CEC, should be made by the President in consultation with a three-member collegium.

Nasim Zaidi

File Photo
Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi favours a collegium type set up to choose the CEC and Election Commissioners who he says should have equal protection under the Constitution in the matter of removal. He, however, hastened to add that the present system of selection of Election Commissioners and the three-member Commission is working fine. “I would say that the (present) system has also worked well. But if there is a consensus going forward that this system needs to be replaced by a consultative system, I think the Commission would live with that and work well.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Even in the absence of this consultative process, CECs and ECs have acted very neutrally, very independently,” he said. He was responding to a question on the recent recommendation of the Law Commission that the appointment of Election Commissioners, including the CEC, should be made by the President in consultation with a three-member collegium. The collegium should consist of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition of the Lok Sabha (or the leader of the largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha) and the Chief Justice of India, it had said.Zaidi recalled that a committee had some years ago recommended a collegium system for appointment of Election Commissioners. “They focused on Election Commissioners. By seniority, the EC becomes CEC, unless there is something extraordinary. They said the EC should enjoy the confidence of the entire political arena. A bill was also brought, but it did not succeed,” he said.Asked whether he supports the demand raised by his predecessors that all the Commissioners be made equal even in matter of removal, Zaidi said he is in “total agreement with all my predecessor Commissioners. The Commission had been taking it up with Law Ministry. Law Commission has reiterated it and this recommendation has merit”.

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