West Bengal poll panel to start ‘violation index’

March 19th, 2009 - 11:03 am ICT by IANS  

By Soudhriti Bhabani
Kolkata, March 19 (IANS) West Bengal is set to become the first state to prepare a ‘violation index’ as a moral tool to zero in on parties and candidates that disobey Election Commission guidelines during campaigning, says the State Election Commission.

“We are introducing this tool under the guidance of the Central Election Commission (CEC) through which we will register violations of the election code of conduct by candidates who will contest in the April-May general elections,” said state Chief Electoral Officer Debashis Sen.

He said the commission would maintain a detailed record of all electoral misconduct, partywise, during poll canvassing.

“We’ll start posting all these violation records in the public domain once the nomination filing process starts in our state. To the best of my knowledge, no other Indian state has so far started this process in their respective regions though there was a CEC directive,” Sen told IANS.

“We (West Bengal) will be the first one to introduce that,” Sen said, adding that the State Election Commission was leaving no stone unturned to make the process effective.

“We’ll publish the record on how many politicians have violated Election Commission norms on our official website so that any common man can have a look at the issues and take a decision about that party and the individual political leader nominated for the Lok Sabha contest,” Sen said.

He said the State Election Commission was also open to sharing the information, free of cost, with the people.

“I think this unique method, which is going to be introduced for the first time in any Indian state, will help to pin down on violations of the moral code of conduct set by the Election Commission of India.”

Complaints of code of conduct violations have already started pouring in.

Communist Party of India-Marxist’s (CPI-M’s) Mohammed Salim, who is contesting from Kolkata (north) and allegedly violated the code of conduct by using a red beacon car during campaigning, has been issued a written warning by the Election Commission.

Another CPI-M MP, Amitava Nandi, also faces an inquiry for his presence at a function last week where monetary help was given to a section of people from his Dumdum Lok Sabha constituency.

The State Election Commission has already sent a report on the alleged distribution of cheques at the function to its head office in Delhi.

Political parties have already been informed about the violation index. The commission will keep a hawk-eye on their conduct and can punish the respective leaders in case of gross violations. Legal action will be taken against the leader if found guilty.

Several political leaders have welcomed the move.

“Everyone should go by the Election Commission regulations during poll campaigning,” said CPI-M central committee member Binoy Konar.

“Everyone should abide by the Election Commission protocols regarding poll campaigning. If anyone tries to violate that, it’s illegal, no matter who does it,” said the Trinamool Congress candidate from Jadavpore, Kabir Suman.

(Soudhriti Bhabani can be contacted at soudhriti.b@ians.in)

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