Cash for votes: Tamil Nadu panel warns of putting off polls

April 12th, 2011 - 7:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, April 12 (IANS) The Election Commission Tuesday reiterated its warning of postponing or countermanding polls in Tamil Nadu if political parties continue to bribe voters with cash or kind.

“We are watching the situation. We are getting reports from micro observers and civil society groups about cash distribution to voters. We will postpone or countermand polls if such practices continue,” Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar told reporters here, a day before voting.

Queried whether the commission would countermand polls ahead of voting, he said there was sufficient time and such a decision could be taken even after the elections.

He said 9,500 polling booths will have web cameras to relay live the polling process to the central office here.

Praveen Kumar said 240 companies (each company will have 100 troopers) of paramilitary and around 150,000 police personnel were being deployed to provide securityuring the polls.

Speaking about the seizures of unaccounted cash by flying squads comprising election panel and Income Tax department officials, he said around Rs.34 crore has been seized till day.

While agreeing that the commission was unable to completely check cash distribution to voters, Praveen Kumar said the phenomenon of cash for votes has been largely curtailed.

The Election Commission would mix electronic voting machines (EVMs) in one polling booth with another.

He said 61,900 cases for violation of model code of conduct have been filed. Of these, 1,253 cases were for cash distribution among voters.

Around 4.71 crore people in Tamil Nadu are eligible to vote at 54,314 polling booths Wednesday in 234 constituencies. Counting of votes will be held May 13. About 80 lakh voters are between 19-24 years.

Till the counting on May 13, the EVMs would be kept in rooms that have only a single door, no other openings and a concrete roof. There will be cameras focused on the door locks of the rooms. No camera will be kept inside the room, officials said.

A total of 62,461 voting machine control units and 66,799 voting machines (including stand-by machines) would be used in Tamil Nadu.

There will be 234 counting centres spread across 91 locations in the state.

Polling is to start at 8 a.m. Wednesday and end at 5 p.m.

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