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How this UP poll is different
A Ganesh Nadar in Moradabad | April 17, 2007 22:47 IST
Last Updated: April 17, 2007 22:53 IST
The difference is evident.
After two phases of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, many are beginning to see that it is the most peaceful elections the state has seen in recent times.
With 57 constituencies voting in the third phase on April 18, Moradabad District Magistrate Pandhari Yadav tells us how the authorities have managed to keep things fair and incident-free.
The most important thing, Yadav said, is to keep the security cover heavy. "There are paramilitary forces stationed in every polling booth," Yadav said.
Be it the cities or the surrounding villages, all the places are full of armed police. They conduct flag marches in all areas.
Earlier, people could say the local police were biased or inefficient. During these polls, the local police's services are utilised, but they will be on duty outside. Only central forces will be allowed inside the booths.
Once the tight security is in place, the problems like booth capturing and intimidating the polling officers and voters are out of the way. What remains is to stop bogus voting.
The main thing to do here is to ensure proper identification of the voters.
Yadav says photo identification is compulsory. "The voters must bring in either their voters' ID card or any of the other specified photo identification," he said.
Polling agents will have to sit inside polling booths, so that they can keep an eye on the proceedings at all times.
The administration has emphasised and enforced the Election Commission's Moral Code of Conduct strictly since the time of nomination. This time, the Election Commission let the contestants know that they are very serious about conduct. The key words here for the officers are: Zero Tolerance.
Till now, the Election Commission has strictly dealt with any violation of the moral code. Posters, banners and graffiti have been banned. Where parties had painted walls, the administration not only cleaned it up, but also billed the candidate. Hoardings, banners have all disappeared. The cities look clean. Only party flags are allowed.
The candidates having been taken care of, the Election Commission then turns its attention on the public. "Except for a few pockets in Moradabad, this entire district is communally sensitive.
"We are keeping a strict watch in areas that are sensitive and will make sure that they can vote without fear," Yadav said.
Vehicles are not allowed near polling booths. In the city, vehicle movement will be restricted in most areas. Only vehicles going to the railway station, bus depot or the highways will be allowed to ply on polling day.
It's a public holiday to enable everyone to vote. In the villages, the harvest season is on in full swing.
So, what will the effect of all these arrangements be?
As evident from the first two phases, voter turnout will be low.
While the Election Commission has attributed it to its strict measures, various parties have said the polling percentage will be low because of the harvest.