The Election Commission’s cVIGIL app, used by citizens to register complaints about violations of the Model Code of Conduct, has received far fewer complaints in the run-up to the Assembly elections than it did during the Lok Sabha poll campaign.
According to information provided by the Election Office in Pune District Collectorate, from September 21 till the evening of October 14, the app received only 185 complaints from the district. With barely a few campaign days left — the last day of campaign is October 19 — the final number of complaints is likely to be far lower than the 1,129 complaints received during Lok Sabha polls.
Cvigil was launched by the Election Commission in March 2019, once the Model Code of Conduct for Lok Sabha polls came into effect. The aim of the app is to fast-track the complaint reception and redressal system and enable citizens to raise grievances about violations of the code of conduct. The app allows citizens to send geo-tagged videos and photos along with a text description of the violation. The complainants have the choice to remain anonymous, as they can use the app without signing in.
The complaints often pertain to putting up posters or banners in support of a candidate, distribution of money, distribution of gifts or coupons, distribution of liquor, pasting of posters or banners without permission, display of firearms to intimidate residents, using a vehicle or convoy without permission, and paid news, among others.
Fewer complaints from old city areas
The lower number of complaints could also be because of reduced 'activism', say officials. It has been noticed that activists in some old city areas, such as Kasba Peth constituency, had filed several complaints in the Lok Sabha elections. But they were not 'active' this time, thereby bringing the number of grievances down, said officials.
The Election Office data reveals that the number of complaints in 15 of the 21 constituencies in Pune district is in single digits, while no complaint has been registered from one constituency, Indapur. Residents of Kasba Peth constituency, who had raised as many as 154 complaints on cVIGIL during the Lok Sabha elections, have so far registered only 21 complaints, the second highest in the district, with Ambegaon seeing the maximum number of 22 complaints.
District Collectorate officials said that of the 185 complaints raised so far, 21 were found to be frivolous or invalid and were dropped by the returning officer. The remaining 164 were handed over to the nearest flying squad unit for resolution. A majority of the complaints were about open banners and billboards taking credit for public works.
When asked about the factors that may have led to fewer complaints before Assembly polls, Additional District Collector Suresh Jadhav, who heads the cVigil Cell, said it could be due to the proactive steps taken by flying squads.
“During Lok Sabha polls, the cVIGIL app was new and citizens, understandably, showed more enthusiasm. Also, our own teams were aware of the kind of complaints that citizens raised… so, this time, they proactively took steps to ensure compliance about the issues that citizens had raised earlier via the app,” said Jadhav.
The cVIGIL control room at the District Collectorate functions 24×7 and is manned by executives who monitor the dashboard and assign the complaints to the nearest flying squad. “Every complaint is geo-tagged and sent to the district office concerned. The team reaches the spot immediately and takes corrective action. It reports the action to the returning officer of the assembly, who forwards the final report to the district election officer,” said Jadhav.