M A I N   N E W S

LS poll to be over by mid-May
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
Chief Election Commissioner T.S. Krishna Murthy today gave clear indications that the Lok Sabha elections would be completed by the second week of May and advised the political parties to adhere to the model code of conduct even before it formally comes into force.

“We would like to hold simultaneous Lok Sabha polls and Andhra Pradesh assembly election,” Mr Turuvai Subbayya Krishna Murthy said soon after taking over as the 13th CEC of the country.

The Andhra Pradesh assembly, which was dissolved in November last year, has to be reconstituted latest by May 13, 2004.

The Commission is likely to announce the poll schedule by the last week of this month and the phased elections could begin by mid-April.

Although Mr Krishna Murthy was tight-lipped on revealing the poll schedule, he indicated that the Commission was working out a schedule to complete the entire election process in less than five phases. The key factor will be the availability of central forces, school exams and weather conditions.

As part of the poll preparation exercise, the three-member panel will be holding a formal meeting with the Union Home Secretary tomorrow to draw a clear picture on the availability of the Central forces for the smooth conduct of the poll.

The Commission has identified Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and the entire North East as most sensitive states and is laying greater stress on central forces being deployed in adequate numbers in these states.

Mr Krishna Murthy categorically stated that the Commission does not want the poll dates to clash with school examinations and all states put in place “proper” electoral rolls.

Sources said the Commission, concerned over the slow place of electoral roll revision in Uttar Pradesh, had summoned the state’s Chief Secretary.

Most of the states, sources said, would complete the roll revision by the end of this month.

Sources said the Commission was generally happy with the electoral rolls revision in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir even as it had directed the Chief Electoral Officers of these states to closely scan the list for any irregularities.

Mr Krishna Murthy said the immediate priority before the Commission was to ensure that the electoral rolls were “reasonably perfect.”

“We have certain difficulties. In some states, voters population is rather high. We are verifying its accuracy,” he said.

Meaning business from day one, the newly appointed CEC categorically stated that the tax payers money should not be used for electoral advantage.

On the guidelines for political parties issuing advertisements in television, he said “we should have a discussion with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in this regard. So far, we have not discussed it, we will have to address this issue.”

On the model code of conduct, he said the code comes into force only after the elections are announced. However, he appealed to the political parties, particularly those in power to observe it even now.

Mr N. Gopalaswami, who assumed charge as the third Election Commissioner, said the elections would be conducted to the satisfaction of all.


Baijal takes over as Home Secretary
Tribune News Service

Anil Baijal New Delhi, February 8
Senior IAS officer Anil Baijal today took over as the new Union Home Secretary.

Mr Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer of the Union Territory cadre, succeeds Mr N. Gopalaswamy, who took charge today as Election Commissioner.

Before joining the Home Ministry, Mr Baijal was the Vice-Chairman of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). He has also worked as Chief Secretary, Andaman and Nicobar, Chairman and Managing Director, Indian Airlines, Commissioner, Sales Tax, and Excise.Back

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