Regional Commissioner and Returning Officer for the elections to the Karnataka West Graduates Constituency Amlan Aditya Biswas has said that it was mandatory for candidates and representatives of various political parties to strictly follow the model code of conduct and also the COVID-19 advisory issued by the Election Commission of India.
Speaking at a meeting of candidates contesting the elections and representatives of political parties in Dharwad on Tuesday, Mr. Biswas said that it was the duty of everyone to ensure free and fair elections and to see that the process is gone through in a transparent manner.
He told them that steps had been taken for issuing permission for public campaigning, vehicles, publicity material and others at the respective Deputy Commissioner offices in Dharwad, Haveri, Gadag and Uttara Kannada districts. Political parties and candidates could get the requisite permission for campaigning and related issues in the four districts from the Deputy Commissioners who were also Assistant Returning Officers, he said.
He clarified that only a specified number of people should go on door-to-door campaigning and that only a specified number of people would be required to participate in indoor meetings. Use of masks, sanitisers and adherence to social distancing norms were mandatory, he said.
Mr. Biswaas said that to prevent any type of election malpractices and violations of model poll code of conduct, three flying squads had been constituted for each one of the legislative Assembly segments in the Legislative Council constituency.
The general public can the helpline Ph: 1077 for registering complaints regarding violations of poll code and for giving other information. For any other complaint regarding violations and malpractices, Chief Executive Officer of the Dharwad Zilla Panchayat (Ph: 9480864000) or the Assistant Commissioner (Ph: 9731008189) could be contacted. Complainants or informers are required to provide their names, address and telephone numbers, he said.
146 polling booths
Mr. Biswas said that a total 146 polling booths were being set up in the constituency and each one of the booths would have health staff, security staff and poll officials and employees. “It is mandatory for voters to wear masks and their health condition would be checked as per COVID-19 advisory. Voters with symptoms of cough and fever will be given time during the last one hour of the polling to exercise their franchise,” he said.
He said that steps had been taken to deliver voter slips to the electorate and it had also been planned to provide information on COVID-19 advisory and polling details. This apart, they were planning to provide route map of polling stations to voters using mobile applications with the permission of the Election Commission of India, he said.
Clarifying that there was no limit on poll expenditure for the Council polls, he said that the Election Commission had, however, asked them to monitor publicity material, public campaigning and other related issues.
Any violation of the poll code and guidelines would be dealt with strictly, especially in cases of misuse of permission, objectionable comments against communities and spreading fake news, he said. Assistant Returning Officer and Deputy Commissioner Nitesh Patil, Nodal Officer for Model Code of Conduct Susheela, Assistant Commissioner B. Gopalkrishna and other officials were present.
There are a total of 75,774 eligible voters, including 48,580 male and 27,183 female and 11 of the third gender. Dharwad district has 22,646 voters, Gadag 16,013, Haveri 23,888 and Uttara Kannada 13,227 voters.
There are now 11 candidates in the fray for the council polls. None of them whose candidature was declared valid after scrutiny, withdrew their nomination papers before the deadline ended on Monday leaving all of them in the fray.
They are: R.M. Kuberappa (INC), Shivashankar Kallur (JD-S), S.V. Sankanur (BJP), Shivaraj Kamble (Karnataka Rashra Samiti), Somashekhar Umrani (Shiv Sena) and Independents Dasharath Chandrahas Rangareddy, B.D. Hiregoudar, Basavaraj Gurikar, Basavaraj N. Teradal, Mohammed Shafiuddin S. Nagarkatti and Shivakumar Talawar.
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