Tuesday, October 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Gujarat poll on Dec 12
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
Assembly elections in Gujarat will be held on December 12, the Election Commission announced today. The Election Commission’s decision coincides with Supreme Court judgement upholding the EC’s order of not holding elections in the trouble-torn state before October.

Making the announcement, after a full commission meeting here, Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh said the notification for the elections would be issued on November 18. The last date for filing nominations would be November 25 and scrutiny of papers would be held the next day.

Voting in all 182-Assembly seats will be through the electronic voting machine. The last day for the withdrawal of candidature would be November 28. The polling would start at 8 a m on December 12 and would go on for nine hours.

The model code of conduct would come into force from today.

Along with the Assembly elections in Gujarat, byelections to the Lok Sabha seats of Mehsana (Gujarat), Godda (Jharkhand) and Nainital (Uttaranchal) would also be held.

Mr Lyngdoh allayed fears that it may not be possible to hold free and fair elections under the existing Narendra Modi establishment.

“We will not do it if we had any doubt at all.... Now the Gujarat Government is in a mood to comply”, he said. The uncertain communal situation and violence in the preceding months in the state had necessitated the deployment of more forces during the poll. The commission had asked the Centre to deploy 40,000 paramilitary personnel during the poll.

Mr Lyngdoh gave a rather cryptic reply to questions whether the minority community would be able to vote freely under the prevailing circumstances. “ We are not psychologists; nor are we social workers keeping in constant touch with people. We are quite aware about our own limitations. We will give them all conditions to allow them to vote”, he said.

He termed the current situation as “alright”. “But we are not taking any chances... and we have sought a large force from the Home Ministry to keep the mischief-makers away”, the CEC noted.

“A detailed exercise on security and other related measures has been carried out for smooth and proper conduct of elections”, he said.

When asked about the large number of people who were displaced during the communal violence earlier during the year, Mr Lyngdoh said as many as 1.76 lakh persons of a total of four lakh missing persons had been relocated. They would vote from their respective places of relocation such as Maharashtra, UP, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The remaining 2.24 lakh persons were yet to be relocated.

“All efforts are being made to locate the shifted voters both within the state as well as in the neighbouring states, where they are likely to have migrated, to provide them with the facility of casting their votes from their present places”, the CEC said.

He denied that the commission had demanded the imposition of President’s rule in the state. “We never demanded President’s rule. We made no demand for Article 356”, he said.

The CEC said the commission had held discussions with the Union Home Secretary, and senior officers of the Gujarat Government to make sure that the “little vote” irrespective of his background felt free to vote.

Mr Lyngdoh said revised electoral rolls in the state were published on October 16 and the special revision had included a large number of persons who were displaced from their original places of residence due to various reasons.

“The current round of elections in Gujarat is going to be held in a somewhat extraordinary situation.

The commission is confident that all players in this exercise—the political parties, the candidates, the voting public and the entire election machinery — will fully appreciate the need to conduct the democratic exercise in a free, fair and peaceful manner, observing necessary restraint and discipline”, Mr Lyngdoh said.

Door-to-door verification of electors was carried out in 23 districts of the state spread across 152 Assembly constituencies. The verification exercise was undertaken between August 28 and September 18.


BJP welcomes elections

Ahmedabad, October 28
The Gujarat BJP today welcomed the announcement of Assembly poll in the state, saying that it was fighting fit for the big event. “Though belated, the party welcomes it as this will give people of the state an opportunity to choose their own government,” party spokesman Bharat Pandya said by telephone from Jamnagar district. PTI


Poll within 6 months not must: SC

New Delhi, October 28
The Supreme Court today laid to rest the controversy over the Election Commission’s (EC) decision not to hold an early poll in Gujarat in the wake of widespread communal riots and opined that the EC was not bound by Article 174 (1) of the Constitution which provides that there shall not be a gap of more than six months between two sessions of an Assembly.

However, the Bench said it should be the endeavour of the EC to hold the poll as early as possible after an Assembly was dissolved. UNI

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