A high level team of the Election Commission of India (ECI) led by Deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla,and Director General Akshay Raut held a marathon meeting with Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police (SPs) and made it clear that model code of conduct and guidelines on paid news should be enforced strictly in Himachal Pradesh.
We are trying to ensure that Himachal should become a test case for democracy,ensuring free and fair elections,no violation of the model code,highest participation of the voters and complete curb on paid new menace, Raut said.
He said separate committees have been set up at the state and district levels to deal with cases of paid news. For the first time,starting with Himachal,the EC has set out a time-line for decisions on all complaints about the paid news. The investigations in cases of paid news have to be completed before completion of the elections, he announced.
Raut admitted that the EC is evolving a foolproof mechanism to ensure that the problem of paid news is tackled by involving the media,editors bodies and Press Council of India.
The officials said that the EC has sent a draft on election reforms wherein the paid news has also been made an offence with a punishment up to two years. He endorsed the views of mediapersons for punitive action against the newspapers and also posting names of the organizations,if found involved,on the ECs official website.
Earlier reviewing the election preparedness,Shukla took stock of the district wise preparation of deployment of polling parties,electronic voting machines and printing and stationary material for the polling parties. Local officials was expressed the need for a helicopter service in far flung and snow-bound areas,particularly in Kangra and Chamba districts.
Shukla said that satellite phone facility may be made available for communication purposes in remote areas.
Chief Election Commissioner V S.Sampath alongwith other members will arrive here on Sunday to review the election arrangements.