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Don't misuse public money, new CEC tells NDA

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | February 08, 2004 17:26 IST
Last Updated: February 08, 2004 20:59 IST

He may not have discussed the issue with his colleagues as yet but T S Krishnamurthy, who on Sunday took over as Chief Election Commissioner, has indicated that advertisements lauding the government's achievements are not in keeping with the spirit of the model code of conduct for elections.

The Lok Sabha has been dissolved but the Election Commission is yet to announce the date of the Lok Sabha election. In view of this, the National Democratic government has been flooding the media with the advertisements, at the expense of the taxpayer.

Addressing mediapersons after taking charge, Krishnamurthy appealed to all political parties, particularly the government, to adhere to the spirit of the model code of conduct.

"Since we have not announced the poll schedule, we have no powers to intervene but taxpayer's money should not be wasted in publicising the achievements of governments," he said.

Krishnamurthy, though, said he was yet to discuss the matter with his colleagues in the EC. "We will first discuss it amongst ourselves and then with the ministry for information and broadcasting," he said.

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He paid compliments to his predecessors and assured that the commission would continue to exercise its powers and maintain its independence. He sidestepped a question if he agreed with his predecessor's views on Indian politicians. J M Lyngdoh had described them as a cancer.

He indicated that the Lok Sabha polls could be held some time between the last week of April and the first week of May. The last one was held in five phases and the EC would try to reduce this number depending on the availability of para-military forces.

He made it clear that the commission would not like the school examinations to be disturbed in any manner.

The commission would announce the poll schedule after discussing the ground realities with the Union home secretary, chief secretaries and director generals of police of various states and Union Territories.

He said that the electoral rolls of all the states barring Uttar Pradesh and Bihar would be ready by the end of February. "We are monitoring the situation on day to day basis," Election Commissioner B B Tandon said. The EC is also looking into allegations of omissions of a large number of names from the electoral rolls in states like Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

He said the commission would try to hold simultaneous elections for the state assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim. "We have enough Electronic Voting machines at our disposal to accomplish this task," Krishnamurthy said.

Taruvai Subbayya Krishnamurthy (63) was the first Indian Revenue Service (IRS) official to become an Election Commissioner in January 2000. He will remain CEC till May 2005 when he will be 65 years beyond which a person cannot continue in that post.

Meanwhile, former Union home secretary N Gopalaswamy joined the election commission on Sunday to fill up the place vacated by Lyngdoh. "We will ensure that the neutrality of the commission is maintained," he said.

With inputs from PTI

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