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CEC sidesteps question on Lok Sabha vote mismatch

Recruitment for 47 posts in a Public Sector Unit on hold, says Poll panel chief

By Achintya Ganguly in Ranchi

  • Published 22.11.19, 1:02 AM
  • Updated 22.11.19, 1:02 AM
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora (centre) in Ranchi on Thursday.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora (centre) in Ranchi on Thursday. Picture by Manob Chowdhary

Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora on Thursday declined to comment on alleged discrepancies between the final tally of votes in the last Lok Sabha polls declared by Election Commission and the provisional list it had announced earlier.

The Telegraph had reported in its Thursday edition that two NGOs — Association for Democratic Rights, and Common Cause — had jointly moved a petition in the Supreme Court on Tuesday alleging mismatch of votes in 347 out of 542 parliamentary constituencies with the difference in six seats being bigger than the victory margin.

“I've seen the report but it wouldn’t be proper for me to comment on that as a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court,” Arora said during a media briefing in Ranchi on Thursday when his attention was drawn towards The Telegraph report.

“We will submit our reply on the issue in Supreme Court in due course,” added Arora, who came to Ranchi with an Election Commission team including election commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Shushil Chandra to review poll preparedness in the state.

The CEC briefed the media about the two-day visit of the Election Commission team that reached Ranchi on Wednesday and held talks with representatives of political parties, senior government officials and nodal officers from regulatory agencies such as income tax, railway and postal authorities.

“Our priority is to ensure free and fair poll and maximum turnout of voters,” Arora said.

The major points highlighted by the political parties during their meeting with the EC team included prevention of money and muscle power that may affect voter turnout, early permission for holding election rallies and implementation of transfer orders of officials who have been serving at a particular place or position for over three years, he informed, adding some political parties alleged that such transfers were not effected.

“We asked them to give specific instances which didn't reach us till now,” the CEC said.

He added that the poll panel would look into those cases whenever received.

“A public sector undertaking that was to recruit against 47 vacant posts assured it wouldn’t do so now in view of the model code of conduct that is in force,” the CEC said, adding that further action against the PSU, if required, would be discussed in a meeting in New Delhi on Friday.

The JMM had lodged a protest with the EC on Wednesday. The JMM's Vinod Pandey had said at a news meet after meeting Arora that the government had invited applications for 47 posts at Hindustan Copper Limited in East Singhbhum.

“The advertisement was issued on November 16, a fortnight after the election schedule was announced,” Pandey had said. “The BJP is trying to lure young voters with so-called job opportunities.”

Arora on Thursday said central forces would be deployed in 19 of the 24 districts of the state that have been identified as being extremist affected.

“There is no legislation as such but a voluntary code of ethics exists and that will be observed,” the CEC said about monitoring use of social media platforms during

election.

Chair and lecture

The first annual memorial lecture in memory of Sukumar Sen, the first CEC of India, will be delivered on January 23 next year, Arora informed. A chair devoted to inter-disciplinary approach to electoral studies will also be instituted at International Institute of Democracy and Election Management in memory of TN Seshan, another CEC, who died earlier this month.

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