CEC directs poll observers to ensure level-playing field for political parties ahead of Lok Sabha elections | India News


NEW DELHI: Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar on Monday directed poll observers, who will be acting as “eyes and ears” of the Election Commission in the upcoming general election, to ensure a level-playing field for all political parties and candidates, keep the polls free of intimidation and inducements, be accessible to all and see to it that the forces are judiciously deployed through randomisation and maintain their neutrality.
At a briefing of nearly 2,150 observers, who are senior officers drawn from IAS, IPS, IRS and other Central services, organised by EC in hybrid mode here, Kumar stressed that they are expected to conduct themselves professionally and be available on phone or email to party representatives, candidates, poll personnel and general public within the constituency allotted to them, at all times. “Any complaints in this regard shall be viewed seriously by the Commission,” he stated.
Of the 2,150 observers who joined the briefing, 900 will be general observers, 450 police observers and 800 expenditure observers. Kumar told the observers to be tough but polite in their conduct on the field and visit the polling stations in their assigned constituency to familiarise themselves with the geography and take stock of any vulnerabilities and sensitive areas. They were directed to remain within the boundaries of the parliamentary constituency allotted to them, through the entire poll process; their vehicle will be fitted with a GPS tracking device to ensure this.
The observers were told to step out of their comfort zones and visit as many polling stations and vulnerable areas as they can, and witness and satisfy themselves with the process of deployment and randomisation of forces. They would need to interact with local people so as to identify the vulnerabilities or criticalities of areas under their watch, and ensure that these are addressed. On polling day, the observers must visit as many polling stations to see if the polling is proceeding in a free and fair manner, as per EC instructions. Observers were specifically directed to ensure that the Central and state forces are utilised judiciously and maintain their neutrality, and that their deployment does not favour any party or candidate.
The officers were told to observe meetings of candidates or party representatives with the district election officer convened by the district election officers (DEOs) or returning officers (ROs) and see that their grievances are heard and acted upon.
District election officers were asked to deploy persons of integrity as liaison officers and security officers of the observers. These officers shall be sensitised to maintain neutrality and attend to their duties honestly.
The day-long sessions saw senior EC officials briefing the observers on various aspects of election management including electoral roll issues, model code enforcement, EVM/VVPAT management, media engagement and the voter education and awareness initiatives.


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