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|January 1, 1998||
EC will be very strict about poll expenses: Dr Gill
Chief Election Commissioner Dr M S Gill says the Commission has sent a revised proforma to all 43 recognised political parties for maintaining election accounts.
A Supreme Court judgment last year had given the EC necessary powers to ask political parties to account their expenses, he told reporters in Chandigarh on Friday.
The CEC, together with the chief secretaries, director generals of police, home secretaries and chief electoral officers of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh had arrived in the city to review poll arrangements for the February 16 Lok Sabha election.
He said the Commission had asked political parties in the 1996 election to file their election accounts. For the coming poll, the EC has revised the proforma. The CEC said if a political party hired planes or helicopters, that expense too would have to be included.
Besides the party expenses, individual candidates would also have to file accounts. The Union government had raised the expenditure limit to Rs 1.5 million for the Lok Sabha poll, which was quite reasonable. Therefore, the Commission would press more than before that the contestants keep their expenditure within the ceiling.
Replying to a question about the use of Doordarshan and All India Radio for electioneering, he said both the media belonged to the nation and all political parties should use them extensively for promoting democracy. Since the official electronic media would be indirectly funded for this purpose, these should not be misused, he added.
To another question about banning opinion and exit poll surveys, Dr Gill said the EC had taken up the matter with recognised political parties. Various views were expressed during a meeting last month.
"The Commission has not yet made up its mind on this issue," he said, "But we will come out with a decision shortly."
Speaking about debarring the corrupt from contesting the poll, Dr Gill said the EC had issued orders to all returning officers to effectively apply section 51 of the People's Representation Act to stop the menace.
To a question about the criticism which the EC's four-day poll schedule had evoked, Dr Gill said political parties had not really grasped what it meant.
"The schedule was drawn up keeping in view the time taken by security forces for moving from one place to another," he said, "There is nothing new in it. Basically, it is a three-day poll schedule as it was in 1996."
He said the security arrangements were satisfactory for holding the election in Punjab and Haryana. Additional forces for poll duty would be provided to the states, he added.
Dr Gill said 15,500 booths would be set up in Haryana for the 11.1 million voters there, while there would be 18,100 polling booths in Punjab for its 15.2 million electorate. Of the 13 seats in Punjab three were reserved, while in Haryana, two of the 10 seats were reserved.
The lone Chandigarh seat, with its 523,000 electorate, would have 624 polling booths, Dr Gill said.
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