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New EC format to reveal vital info on candidates

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, March 5 � Acting on growing demands, the Election Commission has come out with a new format to illicit vital information from a candidate, including criminal background, assets, liabilities and educational qualifications.

The revised affidavit would give out details of PAN, status of filing of income tax return, details of conviction by a court of law, details of profession and also obtain abstract of the details of assets, liabilities and educational qualifications. The revised format will be used for all elections from now on, said National Election Watch, welcoming the EC�s move.

According to reports of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW), the assets of MPs and MLAs generally have shown huge growth. As an example, the assets of all re-elected MPs in Lok Sabha 2009 elections had grown by an average of 288 per cent. These details will now help voters connect the two pieces together and make an informed choice during voting.

The candidate would now have to declare whether the property was inherited or purchased by them. In case it was purchased, they will have to declare the date of purchase, the purchase price and the approximate current value. Some politicians have also complained that the earlier affidavit didn�t give correct picture about their assets as some of them had owned a small house several years back whose value have shot up. These details will help remove the confusion about these issues.

In case of other asset declarations like that of car, jewellery, the new ECI norms now requires that the current value has to be given. There are also other changes to make the information on affidavit more consistent. For instance under affidavit has an �abstract summary� of all details, which means a voter does not have to go through all the pages to get the information on the candidate. They can just look at this section to get the summary.

The Income Tax Department and CBDT have also long complained that matching a candidate�s assets with their income tax is a very painful and long drawn exercise. In the light of the recent discrepancy on income details highlighted by the CBDT for about 300 politicians, these details have become very important.

The Election Watch coordinator for Assam is Tasaduk Ariful Hussain.

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