M A I N   N E W S

EC warns against exploiting religion
Not to allow cameras inside polling booths

Ranchi, January 19
Warning of strict action against those exploiting religion to influence the electorate, Chief Election Commissioner T.S. Krishna Murthy today said it would be “unfortunate” if parties raked the Justice U. C. Banerjee report on the Godhra incident during the election campaign.

When his attention was drawn to reports that RJD President Laloo Prasad Yadav had blamed the BJP and the RSS for the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat in his election campaign in Bihar, Mr Krishna Murthy, said “We have to verify the authenticity of the statement. But the commission will take action if religion is used for political exploitation.”

Mr Yadav, while campaigning in rural areas of Gaya and Aurangabad districts yesterday, referred to the Justice U. C. Banerjee report and alleged that the BJP and the Sangh Parivar were “deeply involved” by spreading a misinformation campaign after the train tragedy, which led to riots in which hundreds of innocent people were killed.

Stating that the commission was yet to go through the interim report of the Banerjee panel, the CEC said it would be unfortunate should such things be used for political purposes.

To a question on allegations against Giridih Superintendent of Police Deepak Verma following the gunning down of CPI (ML-Liberation) MLA Mahindra Singh on Sunday, Krishna Murthy said the Arjun Munda government had requested permission to transfer the police officer.

Categoriacally denying that any action had been initiated by the EC against the official, he said, “We agreed to the government’s request for allowing it to transfer the Giridih police officer.”

On the circumstances behind holding Assembly elections in three phases in Jharkhand and Bihar, Mr Krishna Murthy said the commission could have held the poll in one or two phases had adequate paramilitary forces been available.

The EC also expressed dissatisfaction over executing only 50 per cent of the non-bailable arrest warrants and asked the police to carry out the rest at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Election Commission is not in favour of allowing video and photography inside polling booths because it may affect secrecy of the voting process.

To maintain secrecy of vote, video and photography would not be allowed as these gadgets would disturb officials at work and cause unnecessary interference. Mr Krishnamurthy said.

The Supreme Court had recently suggested to the Election Commission to post paramilitary personnel as well as install cameras inside polling booths “to keep an eye” on the staff conducting the elections. — PTI

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