Gujarat State Election Commission on Wednesday introduced mascots 'Shri Mat' and 'Shri Mati' to create awareness among male and female voters to exercise their right in a free and just manner in the upcoming assembly elections.
"To create awareness among female and male citizens about voting and exercising their franchise in a free and fair manner sans any fear, we have introduced these mascots," state Chief Electoral Officer Anita Karwal said.
"The mascot will represent the indelible black ink (a sign that a person has voted) on the index finger of the left hand," Karwal said, adding, that 'Mat' means 'vote' and 'Mati' means 'sense' meaning voter should cast their vote sensibly.
The State Election Commission will advertise this mascot through posters, hoardings and other channels of communication.
Elaborating the initiatives taken by the State Election Commission, Karwal said, "the Election Commission of India (ECI) has introduced an intense three-layer training for election officials. Police officers across the state would also be imparted training regarding electioneering duty using case studies, power point presentations among other modules".
Since the model code of conduct came into effect following the announcement of poll dates on October 3, materials and literature of political parties totaling 2,42,225 have been removed from across the state, Karwal said.
Posters and hoardings numbering 17,537, 15,078 banners, 42,039 wall writings, 85,899 defacements and permanent writings, 1,66,812 other materials have been removed from across the state by the Election Commission, the officer informed.
The largest number of political material including literature, posters, hoardings, among other things, was removed from Rajkot district, followed by Ahmedabad and Patan in North Gujarat.
The lowest number of political material was removed from Dangs (33), she said.
The Static Surveillance Team (SST), constituted by the State Election Commission, for monitoring expenditure, has so far come across 12 cases where cash to the tune of Rs 1.43 crore has been intercepted, Karwal said, adding, Rs 1.41 crore out of the seized cash was "legal" accounted money while remaining Rs 2.90 lakh is "illegal" amount.
Till Tuesday, 12 such cases came to light from Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Surat and Bharuch, the officer said.
The SST comprises an executive magistrate, four policemen and a videographer, she said.
Clearing the air over unaccounted money, Karwal said recipients of the sum will be given a chance to prove the legality of the amount before any criminal action initiated against him.
Till now four FIRs---two in Surat and one each in Vadodara and Rajkot--regarding violation of Poll Code have been registered, she informed.
On NaMo TV, a news channel launched by BJP in name of chief minister Narendra Modi, Karwal informed that the content of the channel, like any other channels, is being monitored while advertisements are being certified by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC).
Karwal further said the State Election Commission has identified polling booths in certain areas as vulnerable and included them in "vulnerability mapping".
Election authorities will check whether voters cast their vote with fear in such areas and identify the groups they fear, she said, adding that preventive action will be taken to counter such menace.