The BJP has demanded that the expenses to be incurred on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll rallies in Gujarat be added to the party’s expenditure while Congress sought more transparency in the poll process during their meetings with CEC Rajiv Kumar who began his two-day visit to the state on Monday. The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and a delegation of senior Election Commission officials are on a two-day visit to Gujarat to review preparedness for the upcoming Assembly polls and to meet political representatives, said Joint Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat, Ashok Patel.
During their meeting with the CEC, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded that voting hours be extended, said Gujarat BJP vice president Gordhan Zadafia, who was part of the party’s delegation which met the CEC in Gandhinagar.
”We demanded that the CEC direct the labour commissioner or any other competent authority to declare a half-day holiday for factory workers on voting day so that these workers can exercise their voting rights. This will also increase the voter turnout,” Zadafia told reporters.
Assembly elections in Gujarat are due in December this year.
”Many times, we have seen that people could not exercise their franchise because of long queues and the expiry of voting time. Thus, we had urged the CEC to extend the voting hours to accommodate the working class, including those who work in agricultural fields,” said Zadafia.
The BJP also demanded that expenses incurred on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election rallies should be added to the party’s expenditure instead of a candidate, said BJP leader Parindu Bhagat, who was also part of the delegation.
He cited the expenditure incurred by a candidate towards complying with the security protocol of the prime minister during his rallies for the demand. Citing some past incidents, a Congress delegation, led by senior leader Dipak Babariya, urged the CEC to bring more transparency in the election process and ensure that polling booths are not allotted by keeping in mind the inclination of voters in a particular area toward a particular party.
”In the past, EVMs went missing in large numbers and even movement registers of EVMs were not shared with us by officials. We demanded that the election process should be more transparent because many rules were flouted in the past,” said Babariya.
He said in some incidents names of voters of an entire housing society went missing from the voters’ list. ”Moreover, polling booths were allotted two to three kilometres away if voters of that area were inclining to a particular party. We urged the Election Commission to make sure that such things do not happen again,” said Babariya.
Later in the day, Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer P. Bharathi, along with the nodal officer of the Central Armed Police Forces, would give their presentations to the CEC and other poll officials about preparedness.
All the District Election Officers, Superintendents of Police and Commissioners of Police of 33 districts will give their presentation in the evening, said an official.
On Tuesday, the CEC will hold separate meetings with the heads of government enforcement agencies, Gujarat Chief Secretary Pankaj Kumar, and DGP Ashish Bhatia, said the official, adding that CEC Rajiv Kumar will address a press conference on Tuesday evening before winding up his visit.