The Chief Electoral officer (CEO), Punjab, VK Singh on monday said that that there was enough checks in place to ensure that the state assembly elections, to be held next year, did not face any law and order concerns.
“The elections will be noisy but I do not foresee any violence,” he said.
Speaking to The Indian Express on the preparations being made with regard to the assembly elections and, particularly, the widespread apprehension that the keenly contested elections could see violence, Singh said that the state did not have any tradition of such violence during polls.
“The situation is not that primitive that violence will take place. Punjab has a different social milieu and there will be adequate security. Punjab Police also has adequate numbers. We have already given some tasks to field officials. You will feel the change very soon,” he said.
The CEO observed that directions issued on behalf of the Election commission of India (ECI) were executed well by district administrations in the state. Commenting on possible replacement of officials, he said that replacement is the last resort when something happens which cannot be corrected and as of now, situation was progressing well.
“Elections do not happen in a vacuum. Elections happen in general law and order situation and rule of law should be enforced without any subjective discretion and impersonal administration should be provided. That is our objective. We have given some points of directions to police in this regard,” Singh revealed.
Among the directions, which have been given to district police across the state, are that they should make a list of bad characters, history sheeters, persons accused of heinous crimes etc. It has also been asked that courts orders regarding non bailable warrants in heinous cases should be executed and the accused should be produced in court.
“People running away from law, if they are brought before law, it inspires confidence among people. Similarly proclaimed offenders should also be nabbed and bail jumpers also need to be caught,” the CEO said.
Meanwhile, ECI members will be visiting the state in September in order to review implementation of the directions given by the team of officials which recently visited Punjab. Singh said that meetings will be soon held with representatives of all political parties in order to guide them about updating voters’ list and to hear their objections, if any.
“We have observed that political parties do not put their own agents at booth level meetings when rolls are being updated but raise objections later on,” said Singh.
He said the number of youth who have still not enrolled as voters is still large despite a drive carried out by the commission to enroll them.
“We have added nearly 2.5 lakh voters in our drive but there are still around 5 lakh young voters who are yet to be enrolled. We will enroll at least 3 lakh of these young voters by the time the final rolls are prepared. A special revision is being done from September 7 to October 7,” he said.
New machines will be put in one constituency in district voter verifiable paper trail. When you vote light will also glow and a printout will also come informing which party you have voted for. It will be visible for 7 seconds and then it will fall in a box. It will not be given to you. This is as per supreme court orders.
Training of personnel who will man the polling stations and handle the electronic voting machines is also in full swing. The commission is also busy in training master trainers and printing of polling material for election staff. “Nearly 1.5 lakh people have to be trained. To begin with we are not training the last stage people right now. We are training the master trainers and facilitators who will eventually train others and this is happening at district as well as division level, VK Singh informed.