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CEC rules out early poll in Punjab
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Dr SY Quraishi, has ruled out the possibility of early elections in Punjab saying, “prima facie there seems to be no apparent reason that warrants an early poll in Punjab”. Dr Quraishi made these observations after holding meetings with political parties and government officials here today.

Quraishi and Election Commissioners VS Sampath, and HS Brahma held a series of meetings with five parties, the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary, DCs and the state Director-General of Police to assess state’s poll preparedness.

He said the parties had expressed their apprehensions on paid news, use of liquor, drugs and muscle power in the elections. “We have told everyone that we are watching things very carefully and there will be zero tolerance to attempts to subvert neutrality, neutrality is non-negotiable”. The Election Commission was contemplating holding the elections in a single phase and deploying central forces in areas where “political parties had no faith in the local police”.

The ECI team made it clear that all officials posted in their home districts would have to be transferred out along with those who had spent three out of four years at one place. The CEC further clarified that no retired government official could have any role to play in the poll process. Punjab has a large number of re-employed PCS officers who are working as SDMs and ADCs.These officers would have to be moved before the elections.

Punjab, he said, would become the third state after Kerala and Puducherry that would have cent per cent electorate with voter Identity cards. He said in the next elections, the EC would experiment giving the voter slip to the voter. Since the slip would carry the voter’s photo, it too could be used as proof of identity.

The CEC said they could not move against DGP PS Gill or Principal Secretary to CM DS Guru unless there was a complaint that they were playing a partisan role. There were reports that the DGP had attached 350 gunmen with certain residents of Moga with an eye on the elections. This, Quraishi said, was being verified. “The officers can contest the poll, but if they try to influence voters, they will face the consequences”.





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