An 11-member team headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) A K Joti is expected to arrive in Gujarat on Monday for a two-day visit to take stock of preparedness for the coming state Assembly elections. The team will include Election Commissioners O P Rawat and Sunil Arora, sources said. On the first day of the visit, the EC team is expected to meet leaders and representatives of political parties at the Circuit House annexe in Ahmedabad, to hear their concerns and suggestions.
Later, the team will travel to Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar to hold a review meeting with local election officials and top police personnel. According to sources, different aspects of poll management like electoral rolls, district management plan, polling stations, paid news, use of social media, etc will be discussed.
Before the review meeting, the commission will flag off a mobile EVM-VVPAT demonstration centre, which will move around Gandhinagar district to create awareness about the use of VVPATs. Over 76,232 VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines, which generate a paper trail of the votes cast, have been allocated to be used for the first time to conduct elections in over 50,100 polling booths across all constituencies in Gujarat. Over 4.3 crore voters are expected to exercise their franchise.
The EC will also unveil a “Digital Atlas” and a pictorial book on voter awareness named ‘The Count Down Begins’. On October 10, Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat B B Swain is expected to make a presentation before the team. A similar presentation will also be made by the police nodal officer.
Meetings are also scheduled with income tax officials, prohibition commissioner, RBI officials and representatives of leading banks, apart from nodal officers for election expenditure management. The Gujarat Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and Director General of Police are among those with whom the EC will meet.
Gujarat will be the second state to use VVPATs in all its Assembly constituencies after Goa, where the device was used earlier this year. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Gandhinagar was the only constituency where VVPATs were used. Over 45,000 VVPATs are coming to the state directly from two manufacturing firms. Local EC officials have already begun a VVPAT familiarisation drive among voters. Officials said 4,000 VVPATs are yet to arrive in the state.