Poll panel orders covering Mayawati statues, shifts officials (Third Lead)

January 7th, 2012 - 11:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj Party Lucknow, Jan 7 (IANS) In a landmark move, the Election Commission Saturday issued orders for covering all statues of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) symbol, the elephant, till assembly polls in the state are over. It also ordered removal of two key officials.

Announcing the statue decision at a press conference here after two-day-long deliberations with political parties and state government officials, Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi said: “We have done this to ensure a level playing field for all political parties and to see that the ruling party does not derive any undue political mileage though this.”

“Our decision comes in the wake of demand from several political parties,” he added.

In a related development later, the poll panel asked the state government to remove the home secretary and the police chief.

Making the announcement here, BSP general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra said the poll panel had asked for the removal of Principal Secretary, Home, Kunwar Fateh Bahadur Singh and Director General of Police Brij Lal.

The move follows complaints by opposition parties that the two senior officials had a partisan approach favouring the Mayawati government.

The seven-phased polls in Uttar Pradesh will be held from Feb 4 to 28.

On the issue of shifting of some state government officials, Quraishi said: “We had received a number of requests from most of the political parties to shunt officials who allegedly have a tilt towards the ruling party, but a final decision on this count will be taken in Delhi after a detailed examination.”

Issuing a stern warning to poll officials, Quraishi said: “Neutrality has to be maintained at all costs and anyone found lacking on this count will be firmly dealt with by the commission.”

“We have appointed 102 election expenditure observers to keep a close eye on poll funding through unauthorised means,” he added.

To assist these observers, 403 assistant observers have also been deployed in each of the assembly segments. These observers would be roped in from the central revenue services.

“A total of Rs.7.5 crore unaccounted money was seized by the checking squads from various parts of the state.

“While carrying out such drives to curb movement of unauthorised cash, we have also told officials to see that people are not harassed unnecessarily and those moving with genuine cash with relevant documentary proof are not put to inconvenience,” he pointed out, adding that officials have been asked to keep a close watch on hotels, farm houses and airports.

Expressing concern over the poor voter turnout in the state during the previous general elections, including the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Quraishi said: “At some places, the voter turnout was even less than 25 percent.”

Describing this as a “matter of grave concern and not a healthy indication”, he said that the commission was in the process of figuring out the reasons for the same to carry out remedial measures.

“No stone will be left unturned to inculcate a sense of security in the minds of the voters, who should know that their safety will be ensured at all costs,” he added.

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