January 9, 2022 10:42:47 am
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Punjab S Karuna Raju on Saturday said that Covid-appropriate behaviour is a must from political parties and candidates in the upcoming Punjab Assembly polls and that this was a non-negotiable issue, any violation of which will be heavily penalised.
He added that 50 companies of Central Armed Police Forces will be in the state from January 10 to help in the poll process and that 75 companies have been allocated to Punjab to maintain law and order. Speaking to mediapersons here after announcement of poll dates, Raju said that the focus of the political parties and all stakeholders should be on digital outreach. “In 2017 assembly polls the voting percentage was 77.4% and this time we expect it to be even better,” he said.
Raju said that if anyone violates the directions issued relating to Covid appropriate behaviour then action will be taken under State Disaster Management Act which entails a punishment upto years imprisonment.
“DCs and Returning Officers have a list of grounds available for rallies and on first come first get basis political parties can reserve these for their anti-Covid appropriate rallies,” he said.
The CEO said he is holding a meeting with Deputy Commissioners in the state to inform that now that model code of conduct has been imposed whatever developmental work has to be done in the state has to be done as per the guidelines of the EC.
He said he has also requested the state Chief Secretary for instructions to the administrative staff in the state in this regard. “More than 95 per cent of the election staff have been double vaccinated. Those who are left out, special camps will be helds to vaccinate them,” he said. The CEO clarified that citizens of the state can still enrol as voters and this exercise will continue till one week before the last date of nominations.
He added that postal ballot options are being given to voters who are 80 plus. “However, my experience is that voters prefer to come to the polling booth and vote. Even persons with disabilities prefer to come to the polling booth to vote. However, we shall make available this facility of postal ballot to those who need it,” he said.
Answering a question on heavy influx of liquor into Punjab from Haryana during elections, Raju said that Excise and Taxation Department will be imposing strictness in this regard so that no influx of liquor takes place.
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