The Election Commission of India (ECI) received 1,197 complaints from Pune, Baramati, Maval and Shirur regarding violation of the model code of conduct on its cVIGIL app till April 29, district officials said Tuesday. Of this, 93 per cent were genuine complaints that were disposed of, officials said a day after the election process got over in the Maval and Shirur seats. The polls process in Pune and Baramati concluded on April 23. The model code of conduct (MCC) came into force on March 10 ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The cVigil app, which the ECI launched to fast-track the complaint reception and redressal system, is for individual complaints. A person can send to it geo-tagged videos and photos of various violations of mode code, like illegal distribution of money or hate speeches.
The highest number of complaints — 361 — came from the Pune Lok Sabha seat, followed by Baramati at 294, Maval at 233 and Shirur at 226.
Suresh Jadhav, who headed the cVigil app monitoring department at District Election Office, said, “Of the 1,197 complaints received on the app, 995 were genuine complaints that were disposed of. The rest were non-serious ones.”
Officials said they also received mischievous complaints. For instance, a techie from Hinjewadi called up to say that ink from his index finger had disappeared. “When we probed, we found that he had removed the ink using a blade. He later confessed. We then decided to lodge a police complaint against him. However, the techie’s firm said if a police complaint is filed against him, they will sack him. The techie apologised and so, we did not file a complaint,” he said.
The maximum complaints were about putting up posters, banners or defacement of a public place, officials said. Jadhav said they did not receive a single complaint regarding the distribution of money to entice voters or hate speeches. But activist Maruti Bhapkar alleged that money was distributed during the Lok Sabha poll in Maval seat.
“It was from both NCP and Shiv Sena, which is clear from the arrests made in Panvel. This also means that either people feared complaining on the app or election officials did not create enough awareness about the cVigil app,” he said.
For election rallies, Bhapkar alleged, every individual was given Rs 300. “This was from both the parties, but the election officials had no clue. Even if they knew, they did not act,” he alleged. BJP general secretary Sarang Kamtekar said election officials did not closely monitor the distribution of money. “Money was distributed by the NCP, which was proved after the arrests. If election officials had taken the help of citizens or activists, then they would send complaints on cVigil app. But it seems no efforts were made to popularise the app,” he alleged.
Pimpri-Chinchwad NCP chief Sanjog Waghere said the party had not distributed money to attract voters. “As for those who have been arrested in Panvel area while distributing money, we will have to wait till the investigation is complete. It has to be proved that money was being distributed for a specific candidate,” he said.
District Collector Naval Kishore Ram, who is the District Election Officer, said they have acted on each and every complaint and disposed them as per the stipulated norm. “The cVigil app is about location-based complaints. For instance, if an individual sees cash being distributed, he or she has to take a video or picture and upload it on the cVigil app so we can act,” he said.
Ram denied allegations that not enough awareness was created about the app. “The highest number of more than 350 complaints received in Pune shows enough awareness was created. As for complaints regarding cash distribution, the police have taken appropriate action in the matter.”
Officials said the complaints received on the cVigil app were quickly disposed of. After a complaint is received, it is forwarded to a flying squad within five minutes. The squad either accepts or rejects it — a complaint can be rejected if the flying squad thinks it cannot reach the spot on time or if they are busy with other investigations.
If the flying squad does not accept the complaint, it is re-allotted to another squad, officials said. The flying squad is expected to reach a spot within 15 minutes and take action within 30 minutes. The flying squad then submits its action-taken report to assistant return officer (ARO). The ARO submits a reply to the complainant or if he or she thinks it needs further investigation, another investigation is initiated, officials said.
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