14 Oct :The terms of the Legislative Assemblies of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, and NCT of Delhi are normally due to expire on 21.12.2008, 14.12.2008, 14.12.2008, 14.01.2009 and 17.12.2008 respectively. By virtue of its powers, duties and functions under Article 324 read with Article 172(1) of the Constitution of India and Section 15 of Representation of the People Act, 1951 the Commission is under the constitutional mandate to hold general elections to constitute the new Legislative Assemblies in the States of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and NCT of Delhi within a period of six months before the expiry of the present term.
2. The total number of seats in the Assembly Constituencies of the above States and seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, as determined by the Delimitation Commission under the Delimitation Act, 2002 are as under:
Total No. ACs
ACs reserved for SC
ACs reserved for ST
3. General Elections will be conducted in the States of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, and NCT of Delhi on the basis of the electoral rolls revised with reference to 01.01.08 as the qualifying date and prepared in accordance with constituencies newly delimited by the Delimitation Commission. The electoral rolls in four States has been already completed and finally published. In NCT of Delhi, the electoral rolls of 24 Assembly Constituencies have been finally published on 6th October 2008 and the rolls of remaining 46 Constituencies will be published on 15-10-2008.
As per final rolls, there are 1,52,07,734 electors in the State of Chhattisgarh, 3,57,05,136 in the State of Madhya Pradesh, 6,11,124 in the State of Mizoram, and 3,62,19,481 in the State of Rajasthan. In NCT, Delhi final figures would be known after the final publications. Approximately 1, 09, 00,000 electors are registered according to the draft rolls. The electoral rolls of all the Assembly Constituencies of these States have been computerized and are available on the website of the Chief Electoral Officers of the States concerned.
PHOTO ELECTORAL ROLLS
4. All these States are having photo electoral rolls which will be used in these states during the forthcoming general elections for easy identification of voters.
ELECTORS PHOTO IDENTITY CARDS (EPIC)
5. Identification of the voters at the polling booth at the time of poll shall be mandatory. Electors who have been provided with EPIC shall be identified through EPIC only. Presently, the EPIC coverage in these States is as under:-
Madhya Pradesh 85.00%
NCT Delhi 80.00%
All the residual electors are advised to obtain their Elector’ Photo Identity Cards from the Electoral Registration Officers of their Assembly Constituencies urgently.
ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES (EVMs)
6. The poll in these States will be conducted at all polling stations using EVMs. The Commission has already made arrangements to ensure availability of adequate number of EVMs for the smooth conduct of elections. A two-stage randomization of EVMs will be made. In the first stage, all the EVMs stored in the district storage centre will be randomized by the District Election Officer (DEO) in the presence of the representatives of the recognized political parties for allocation assembly constituency-wise. After the EVMs in a constituency are prepared for the poll by the Returning Officer and the ballot units are fitted with ballot papers, then the EVMs will again be randomized to decide the actual polling stations in which they will be ultimately used. The second stage randomization will be done in the presence of Observers, candidates or their election agents.
LAW AND ORDER AND DEPLOYMENT OF FORCES
7. Based on the assessment of the ground situation, Central Police Forces (CPF) and State Armed Police (SAP) drawn from other States will be deployed during the ensuing general elections. The CPF and SAP will be used generally for safeguarding the polling stations and for providing security to the electors and polling personnel at the polling stations on the poll day. Besides, these forces will be used for securing the strong rooms where the EVMs are stored and for securing the counting centers. Wherever needed, the CPF will be deployed in advance for area domination and other election related duties. The identification of polling stations requiring coverage by CPF in various assembly constituencies will be made in consultation with the ECI Observers.
8. The Commission has been issuing instructions from time to time with regard to the advance preventive measures to be taken by the District Magistrates and Police authorities to maintain the Law & Order and to create atmosphere conducive for the conduct of free and fair elections. The Commission will be constantly monitoring the ground situation closely and will take appropriate measures to ensure peaceful, free and fair polls in these States.
9. The Commission will be deploying 650 Observers to ensure smooth conduct of forthcoming General Elections in these states. The Observers will be asked to keep a close watch on every stage of the electoral process to ensure free and fair elections.
In addition to the General and Expenditure Observers, the Commission will also deploy Micro-Observers selectively. They will be appointed from amongst the Central Government/Central PSU officials available locally. They will be stationed at specific polling station locations housing one or more polling stations and keep close watch on poll proceedings on the poll day. These micro-observers would directly work under control and supervision of the general observer.
CONDUCT OF OFFICIALS
10. The Commission expects all officials engaged in the conduct of elections to discharge their duties in an impartial manner without any fear or favour. They all shall be deemed to be on deputation to the Commission and shall be subject to its control, supervision and discipline. Several instructions have been issued from time to time to ensure impartiality of officials who are engaged in conduct of elections. The conduct of all government officials who have been entrusted with election related responsibilities and duties would remain under constant scrutiny of the Commission and strict action shall be taken against those officials who are found wanting on any account.
11. The Commission has already given instructions that no election related official or Police officer of the rank of Sub Inspector and above shall be allowed to continue in his home district. Besides, instructions have also been issued that all the election related officials including the police officials who have completed three years in a district during last four years should be transferred out of that district. The Governments of the States have also been asked to transfer all those officers against whom the Commission has recommended disciplinary action or who have been charged for any lapse during previous elections or for any election related work, from
positions entailing any election work.
12. The Governments of these States have been instructed to ensure that those who stand transferred shall move out physically of their last place of posting and not remain there on any pretext including leave.
13. The Commission has also instructed the State Governments not to associate any officer with the electoral process against whom charges have been framed in a court of law in any case.
PROTECTION TO SC/ST ELECTORS
14. As per Section 3 (1) (vii) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, forces or intimidates a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe not to vote or to vote to a particular candidate or to vote in a manner other than that provided by law shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine. The Commission has asked the State Government to bring these provisions to the notice of all concerned for prompt action.
15. There are 20,952 polling stations in Chhattisgarh, 46,812 in Madhya Pradesh, 1,026 in Mizoram, 42,212 in Rajasthan, and 10,849 in NCT of Delhi. For the facility of physically challenged persons, instructions have been issued to ensure that all polling stations as far as practicable, are located at ground floor and ramps are provided. Facilitation shall also be provided for locating elector’s name against a polling station or a group of polling stations through help lines and facilitation centres.
POLLING PARTIES AND RANDOMIZATION
16. Polling parties shall be formed randomly, through special application software. Three-stage randomization will be adopted. First, from a wider district database of eligible officials, a shortlist of about 120% of the required numbers will be randomly picked. This group will be trained for polling duties. In the second stage, from this trained manpower, actual polling parties as are required shall be formed by random selection software in the presence of ECI Observers. In the third randomization, the polling stations will be allocated randomly, just before the polling party’s departure.
DISTRICT ELECTION PLAN
17. The District Election Officers have been asked to prepare a comprehensive district election plan including communication plan for conduct of elections. The communication plan should include all resources such as landline telephones, mobile telephones, wireless sets, satellite phones etc., to facilitate effective monitoring and control on the day of poll. The state chief electoral officers have also been asked to open Help Lines and Control Rooms in each Assembly Constituency for the convenience of electors.
18. All critical events shall be videographed. The Commission has issued detailed guidelines for video coverage of all critical events during the election process and polling at all vulnerable polling booths on the poll day. The digital cameras will also be deployed inside the booths wherever needed.
MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT
19. The Model Code of Conduct comes into effect immediately from now onwards. All the provisions of the Model Code will apply to the whole of the above States and will be applicable to all candidates, political parties, the State Governments concerned and the Union Government from today itself. Attention of the political parties and candidates is particularly invited to the following provisions of the Code:-
“There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, Churches, Temples or other places of worship shall not be used as forum for election propaganda.”
20. The Commission has prepared the schedule for holding General Elections to the Legislative Assemblies of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and NCT of Delhi after taking into consideration all relevant aspects, like the climatic conditions, academic schedules, festivals, prevailing law and order situation in the States, availability of Central Police Forces, time needed for movement and proper deployment of forces, and assessment of other ground realities The schedule is also in keeping with the Commission’s consistent policy to club different state elections together even when their term ends on different dates separated by a few months..
21. The Commission after considering all relevant aspects has decided to recommend to the Governors of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and NCT of Delhi to issue notifications for the General Elections to the Legislative Assemblies of the respective States under the relevant provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 as per schedules given in the Schedules Annexed.