GUWAHATI, March 12 � Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath, who is in the city to review the Lok Sabha poll arrangements, today said that the Commission was going the extra mile to curb unethical poll practices, including use of money and muscle power by political parties.
Sampath was accompanied by Election Commissioners HS Brahma and Nasim Zaidi.
�Poll station-wise vulnerability mapping is being done to prevent intimidation to voters, and special measures will be taken to ensure that everybody votes in a free and fair ambience. We have also instructed the administration and the police to ensure dispossession of licensed firearms and seizure of unlicensed, illegal weapons,� Sampath told the media.
Stating that the model poll code of conduct would be strictly enforced, Sampath said except calamity relief schemes, populist schemes aimed at individual beneficiaries would not be allowed, and that the EC would closely monitor the developments.
�We have put in place a comprehensive complaint redressal mechanism, with a toll-free number 1950 for entertaining complaints concerning poll-related malpractices. Neutrality of all officials and other persons engaged in the conduct of the electoral process is another important aspect, and we have made it clear that EC�s stance is one of zero-tolerance to erring officials,� Sampath said, adding that any instance of poll code violation or other malpractices can be brought directly to the notice of the EC as well.
The EC is also adopting measures for checking flow of black money into the poll process. �Distribution of cash and goodies will be monitored, while the Income Tax authorities will survey large-scale movement of cash. Big hotels, too, will be under the scanner,� Sampath added.
The CEC also stated that the administration had been directed to ensure basic minimum facilities, i.e., drinking water, shades and lighting (as the polls will be held from 7 am to 5 pm) at all polling stations.
The option to reject candidates (the option being �none of the above�, i.e., NOTA) is being applied in Assam for the first time, he said. The CEC also ruled out any change in the poll schedule, as demanded by some political parties.
On the issue of �D� voters, Sampath said that it was for the Judiciary to decide on their citizenship status, and pending that, they would not be able to cast their votes.
The CEC and the two Election Commissioners had earlier interacted separately with political party functionaries and DCs and SPs over the conduct of the forthcoming polls.