Ahmedabad: The Election Commission (EC) on Monday warned that it will not tolerate any activities which would disturb or vitiate the atmosphere during the Gujarat Assembly elections to be held in December. "The Commission would like to emphasise that we will not allow the level playing field to be disturbed or vitiated by anyone, as our foremost task is to maintain a level playing field," Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath said.
He is here with other Commission members to review election preparedness and to listen to views of different stake-holders in the state assembly elections. During the hearing, the EC received complaints about the conduct of some state officials and officers connected with election duties. Earlier in the day, the opposition Congress complained to the EC that there was an attempt by the ruling BJP to polarise voters on communal lines. The Congress also said that some officers have been working for the ruling BJP.
"We have made it clear to officers that their conduct will be under close watch. We won't tolerate deviation from neutrality and impartiality," the CEC said. On the issue of use of money he said that "There will be no let up in our sincere fight against the use of money power. Stringent measures will be taken to prevent the use of money and other inducements, but without undue harassment".
"There were complaints from political parties that normal government duties have been neglected. We made it clear that normal activities must not suffer," he said. Expressing satisfaction over electoral preparedness in Gujarat which will vote on December 13 and 17, the CEC released updated electoral data on Monday.
According to the CEC, at present there are 3.80 crores of total voters, out of those 1.99 crore are male and 1.81 crore are female voters. More significantly, in this election there will be 13.22 lakh voters, 2.09 per cent of total voters, who are of 18 years of age and will cast their vote for the first time.
"To ensure that all eligible voters get registered for the poll, good work has been done by the state machinery on updating rolls," Sampath said. There was a demand by political parties to ban opinion polls. On this the CEC said that, "Banning opinion polls require an amendment in the Representation of People Act, 1950 and as of now, only exit polls have been banned under the provisions of this Act".
He said that the EC had time and again requested the Centre to treat opinion polls on par with exit polls. Sampath along with Election Commissioners HS Brahma and Nasim Zaidi, besides Deputy Commissioners Vinod Zutshi and PK Dash are in the city to review poll preparedness. Since morning, the EC held a series of meetings with different political parties, district magistrates, superintendents of police, Income Tax officers, Chief Secretary, home secretary and Director General of Police.