Voter percentage a concern of contesting parties: poll body chief (Lead)

November 12th, 2008 - 10:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Nov 12 (IANS) It is the duty of the Election Commission to ensure free and fair voting, and political parties should be concerned about the voter turnout, said India’s poll panel chief Wednesday here.”Our main concern is holding free and fair elections and we have issued instructions that the polls here have to be free and fair,” Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N. Gopalaswami told reporters here.

“Political parties should be concerned about poll percentages,” he said.

The CEC said the army and security forces would not interfere with the elections in anyway.

Asserting that the modal code of conduct would be strictly enforced, the poll panel chief said: “We have given clear instructions to the district magistrates to ensure strict compliance of the modal code of conduct.”

Asked whether the poll boycott campaign by the separatists was posing to be a challenge for the poll body in holding elections here, Gopalaswami said: “Weather is the biggest challenge faced by us.”

“The separatists speak various languages and law will take its own course to deal with them.”

Speaking about his day’s interaction with leaders of political parties and the administration here, the CEC said he had met leaders of about nine recognised political parties and also district magistrates and police chiefs of various districts in the Kashmir Valley.

“Based on the feedback from political parties who mainly complained about matters concerning providing of security vehicles and at some places alleged campaigning by government employees, we have given instructions to take care of this,” the CEC said.

The three member team of the Election Commission comprising the CEC and the two election commissioners, Naveen Chawla and S.Y. Qureshi, arrived here earlier Wednesday on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

The team would be visiting the state’s winter capital Jammu Thursday to take an over view of the election scenario and interact with leaders of the political parties and the state administration there.

Jammu and Kashmir will vote in a seven-phase elections to elect its new 87-member assembly. The first round will take place Nov 17.

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