SHILLONG: Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat on Friday asked the election machinery in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland to be “fearless and unbiased” to ensure fair voting during the assembly elections.
While polling in Tripura will be held on February 18, Meghalaya and Nagaland will go to the polls on February 27.
“All the three states have their own peculiarities. The Election Commission has taken adequate measures to ensure free and fair election,” Mr Rawat told journalists after reviewing Meghalaya’s poll-preparedness with election officials.
“We have directed the election machinery to be fearless, unbiased, neutral and independent from any influence whatsoever. Conduct and discharge of duties by election officials would be under constant watch of the Commission.”
Moreover, he said the Commission has a strong belief that Meghalaya will be able to set a new benchmark by providing a totally free, fair, peaceful, credible, transparent inclusive and participative election.
Mr Rawat said that during the visit, they met representatives of various political parties to understand their issues and concerns for holding free, fair and peaceful elections.
“Most of the political parties welcomed the Commission’s decision to hold elections in the state and expressed satisfaction on poll arrangements.”
Mr Rawat said the state administration has been asked to take steps to tone up the security and the law and order environment.
“Strict vigil is being maintained to check the cross-border smuggling of drugs, liquor and other illicit items from neighbouring states. Meghalaya’s international borders in border districts and also inter-state borders are also appropriately under surveillance.”
Election authorities have so far seized Rs. 17.25 lakh and over 20,000 litres of liquor in Meghalaya after the model code of conduct came into effect, said Mr Rawat.
All the police check posts across the state are under webcasting and videography 24×7 for the entire period during the election.
To prevent the use of money and other illegal activities to influence voters, Mr Rawat said that GPS has been brought for swift action so that flying squads can move in the direction from where the complaint has been received.
He said of the total 18,42,163 voters, 9,29,314 are women while there are also 2,621 service voters.
Mentioning that Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines will be used in all the 3,083 polling stations in the 60 assembly constituencies, Mr Rawat said the Commission has directed that one polling station of each constituency be randomly selected and VVPAT slips from there be counted and matched with EVM results.