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Political parties briefed about Model Code of Conduct in Assam
With the aim of generating awareness amongst political parties to ensure strict observance of the Model Code of Conduct during the run-up to assembly elections in Assam, a high-level meeting was held in Assam's Bilasipara region.
A HIGH-level meeting was convened at the Conference Hall of the Office of the Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil), Bilasipara recently.

The meeting was presided over by the Sub-Divisional Office (Civil), Dhruba Jyoti Das, who is also the designated Election Officer of Bilasipara Election District. The meeting was attended by the representatives of various political parties of the election district.

The SDO (Civil) apprised all those present in the meeting about the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct from March 1, 2011 i.e. the date of announcement of poll schedule by the Election Commission of India.

Das emphasised on strict observance and adherence to the norms of the Model Code of Conduct by the concerned political parties.

Das directed the representatives of political parties to refrain themselves from any act of defacement or damage of public or private property through wall-painting, postering or graffiti during the course of campaigning. He also directed them to remove any existing wall-painting, posters or graffiti immediately so as to maintain the Model Code of Conduct in the election district.

Das apprised the representatives of the political parties that the submission of nomination papers by the candidates will take place at the office of the Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil), Bilasipara for both 26 Bilasipara West and 27 Bilasipara East LACs.

During submission of nomination papers, only five (5) persons including the candidate will be allowed within 100 metres radius of the premises. Das further added that for campaigning purpose, the candidates should procure prior passes for vehicles to be used for the same. Moreover, the passes should be clearly displayed in the vehicles during campaigning.

Das apprised the meeting that in order to keep a check on the violation of Model Code of Conduct regarding the expenditure to be undertaken by the respective candidates, there will be strict vigilance and monitoring on the expenditure undertaken by the candidates during campaigning.

He further added that there will be a Flying Squad headed by a magistrate and armed personnel to keep vigil on the illegal transaction of cash, liquor or arms during campaigning.
It will also monitor instances of violation of model code of conduct, and will take firm action against violators. He also added that besides engaging an Expenditure Observer, there will be another Assistant Expenditure Observer to keep a tab on violators.

He further informed about the provision to be made for a Video Surveillance Team, Video Viewing Team and Accounting Teams to render similar services. The properly trained and oriented Video Surveillance Team will capture all expenditure related events and evidences.

The Video Surveillance Team, at the beginning of the shooting shall record in voice mode the title and the type of event, date, place and the name of the political party and the candidate organizing the event.
It will capture the video in such a way that the evidences of each vehicle, each make and registration number, furniture, rostrum, banner, cutout etc. can be clearly seen and the expense there on can be estimated.
In relevant cases, statements of the drivers and passengers will also be recorded to prove the vehicles’ use for election purpose. In this context, Das also informed forming of a facilitation centre and a 24-hour call centre bearing the phone number – 03667-250239 to register any complaint regarding violation of the same.

Das informed that as per the announcement of Election Commission of India, polling in Bilasipara Election district will be held on April 11 as it falls under Dhubri district where polling will be conducted in the second phase. Das also added that the date of issue of notification is fixed to be March 18, 2011.

From then on the nominations can be made by the candidates of different political parties till March 25, 2011. On March 26, 2011, the nominations will be scrutinized.
As per the schedule, the last date of withdrawal of candidature has been fixed on March 28, 2011, whereas, on May 13, 2011, the counting of votes will begin. Das also apprised that the Election Commission of India has directed to complete the election process before May 18, 2011.

Following the guidelines of the Election Commission of India, Das directed the political parties to remove the banners, hoardings, posters, wall-writing from public property. He also urged them to refrain themselves from any kind of defacement of public and private properties during election campaign.

Das apprised the meeting that the maximum limit of expenditure by a candidate has been extended from 10 lakh to 16 lakh this year. The SDO (Civil) also added that the ECI has directed all candidates to open a bank account exclusively for transactions related to election purpose.

Moreover, they are also expected to make all payments through cheques, except petty expenditures. So, he urged all concerned not to exceed, in any circumstances the notified limit, he further warned that violators will be penalized as per ECI guidelines.

While discussing about the Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates, Das apprised that there shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes; places of religious worship like mosques, churches or temples shall not used as forum for election propaganda.

Das further added that no party or candidate shall include in any activity that may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religion or linguistic.

While elaborating on the Model Code of Conduct, Das also apprised that criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work.

Parties and candidates shall refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life, not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. He further stressed to take note that criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided.

Das made an appeal to the political parties to increase the number of Booth Level Agents in all the polling stations. He informed that at present date, INC has 88 nos., BJP and CPI have 15 nos. each, AGP has 278 nos., AIUDF has 355 nos., BPF has 58 nos. of BLAs being appointed in various polling stations of the election district.

In order to eradicate any misconception or prejudices regarding the foolproof-ness about the functioning of the Electronic Voting Machines, a thorough demonstration of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) was presented by Moinul Hoque, Agriculture Development Officer of Chapar-Salkocha Development Block during the course of the meeting.

While concluding the meet, the SDO (Civil) requested the members of political parties to strictly abide by the guidelines set by the Election Commission and also spread awareness amongst the party workers regarding the same and to extend full cooperation to the administration for the smooth conduct of the free and fair Assembly Election, 2011.

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