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January 4, 2000
EVMs, photo ID cards to be used in assembly polls
Electronic Voting Machines and photo identity cards will be used in the upcoming assembly elections in four states, including cyclone-hit Orissa, Chief Election Commissioner M S Gill said on Tuesday.
Talking to reporters after a meeting with the chief electoral officers of Bihar, Manipur, Orissa and Haryana, where assembly elections are due shortly, Gill said all aspects of the poll arrangements were discussed in detail at Tuesday's meeting.
The full commission will also have a meeting with Union Home Secretary Kamal Pande tomorrow to discuss availability and deployment of central forces in these states, he said.
Gill said the Commission was in favour of advance deployment of central forces in the Naxalite- and insurgency-affected areas of Bihar and Manipur respectively so that these can be "sanitised" and landmine blasts like the ones during the recent Lok Sabha elections prevented.
While not announcing the schedule of the polls, Dr Gill said, "These are not far away". He indicated that the schedule would be announced after the summary revision of electoral rolls which is underway now is published on January 7.
Indications are that the elections are to be held in February. Gill announced last week that the Lok Sabha by-elections in Bellary, vacated by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and Kannauj, vacated by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, and 31 assembly seats in 11 states would be held along with the four assembly elections.
Stressing the Commission's determination to ensure "clean and fair" elections, Gill said that, for the first time, "effective use" would be made of photo identity cards in Haryana, where the distribution of these cards is nearly complete.
EVMs, which were successfully used in 45 constituencies in the recent Lok Sabha elections, will be used in a few assembly constituencies in each of the four states, Gill said.
"The use of EVMs and photo identity cards for clean and fair polling is the election model we are going to present to the country in the new century," he said.
The CEC said that the use of EVMs and ID cards was discussed at great length in today's meeting with the state election officials. Besides senior officials of the Election Commission here, the meeting was attended by the CEOs of Haryana Bhaskar Chatterjee, Bihar A K Basu, Orissa A S Sarangi and Manipur D S Poonia.
Asked if any special arrangements were to be made in Orissa, which bore the brunt of a devastating cyclone in October-end, Gill said "adequate arrangements" would be made.
He said it was the EC's duty to ensure a government was in place in good time before the last one's term ends.
Senior Commission officers had visited the cyclone-hit areas of Orissa and would visit them again to monitor the polling arrangements there, Gill said.
While the term of the Orissa, Bihar and Manipur assemblies ends in March and April next year, Haryana has opted for early elections, dissolving its assembly 17 months in advance.
Assembly by-elections are to be held in Gudivada in Andhra Pradesh, Majuli in Assam, Chotila and Bhadran in Gujarat, Solan in Himachal Pradesh, Tral and Wachi in Jammu and Kashmir, Rajim, Jabalpur Central and Bhojpur in Madhya Pradesh, Nawan Shahr in Punjab, Raisinghnagar, Sadulpur, Mandawar, Nimbahera, Aspur and Asind in Rajasthan, Nelikuippan, Tircuhirapalli and Aruntangi in Tamil Nadu, Shahabad, Pilibhit, Unnao, Pratapgarh, Guari Bazar, Patiali, Thana Bhawan and Nakur in Uttar Pradesh and Nabagram, Binpur and Suri in West Bengal.
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