Thursday, January 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

HP poll in Feb: Lyngdoh
Our Correspondent

Shimla, January 8
Mr J. M. Lyngdoh, Chief Election Commissioner, today stated that the schedule for the Himachal Assembly elections to be held in February would be announced soon. The dates for poll in the tribal areas, would depend on the snow factor.

Answering mediapersons' query on whether he would stop Mr Narender Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister, and Mr Praveen Togadia from using the religion card in the campaigning, the Chief Election Commissioner said it was up to the local people to decide and the three-member Election Commission could not change the course of the country. He described Himachal Pradesh as a peaceful state and appealed to the people not to allow outsiders to disturb the serene atmosphere of the state.

He said the election schedule of the state would be announced soon. He had met leaders of various political parties in this regard and they had stressed on enforcing the Model Code of Conduct. The political parties had filed complaints about inaugurations, recruitment of daily wage workers, and misuse of government vehicles in the Chief Minister’s vishwas yatra. He said he would look into them. “There were other complaints regarding the formation of new districts, creation of posts of ADC in various regions as if those places would be prospective district headquarters and holding of elections in March,” he added.

Mr Lyngdoh said photo identity cards would not be mandatory in the ensuing elections. The voters could show other documents as proof. These documents included kisan passbooks, ration cards, domicile certificates, land pattas, pension card and passport. On the use of electronic voting machines, he stated that the polling staff would be trained thoroughly and the EVMs displayed before the elections and the people told their operation.

Mrs Manisha Nanda, Chief Electoral Officer, said more than 8,000 EVMs would be used in the elections and 6,231 polling booths set up. In a lighter vein, Mr Lyngdoh said he would have come earlier to the state if he knew the weather here was so good as compared to that of Delhi.

Meanwhile, the Himachal Pradesh state committee of the CPM has asked the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) to take notice of the following facts regarding a free and fair poll in the state.

The CPM memorandum said the BJP government in the state was leaving no stone unturned in its inauguration spree. It said without any budgetary proposal, the foundation stone or inauguration process was being carried out at many places. It added that the BJP Government was playing with the sentiments of the people by creating posts of ADC in various regions as if those places would be the prospective district headquarters.

The party also feared that the ongoing process of advertising various posts in different departments prior to the elections was actually to fill these posts with their own cadres. The party also favoured a single voter list system for the parliamentary, assembly, panchayat and local bodies elections.


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