Imphal: Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Manipur Rajesh Agrawal informed that a team of Election Commission of India (ECI) would visit Manipur on 7th February, 2022 to review the poll preparedness for the ensuing election to the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly.
Briefing the media Rajesh Agrawal continued that the Election Commission will hold meeting with Chief Secretary, Director General of Police, Chief Electoral Officer, State Police Nodal Officer, DG Assam Rifles, recognized National/State political parties, District Election Officers, Superintendents of Police and Enforcement Agencies.
He further stated that Election Notifications for First Phase had been issued by all Returning Officers (RO) on 1st February, 2022 while the Notifications for Second Phase will be issued on 4th February, 2022. In view of COVID-19, the number of persons to accompany a candidate for filing Nomination is restricted to two and the number of vehicles is also restricted to two. He added that candidates shall open separate bank accounts for incurring expenditure in the current General Elections.
Stating on the publication of criminal antecedents, the CEO stated that so far Bharatya Janata Party had published Format C-7 for 13 candidates having criminal antecedents while Indian National Congress had published the same for 11 candidates. He also reiterated that political parties should publish Format C-7 for selecting candidates having criminal antecedents within 48 hours of selection of candidates and compliance in Format C-8 should also be furnished to ECI/CEO within 72 hours of selection of such candidates.
Further, candidates having criminal antecedents should also publish declaration in Format C-1 and report compliance to RO immediately on three occasions (from the last date of withdrawal of candidature till 2 days before poll)- in National newspapers, local newspapers, TV channels as specified/identified by CEO. Political parties should also publish in Format C-4 and report compliance to the CEO on three occasions- in local newspaper, TV channels as specified by the CEO. Candidates should also file Revised Abstract Statement of Election Expenses and the same has been circulated to all ROs and all political parties.
He further informed that an Android based mobile app called Voter Facilitator App had been developed by IT Cell of CEO, Manipur. The App will have three important features including information on average queue waiting time, Wheelchair service booking facility and Postal Ballot opting service facility using his/her mobile conveniently from the comfort of his/her home by normal voters, 80+ voters and PwD category voters.
Rajesh Agrawal also mentioned that permission for meeting, door to door campaigning should be obtained from District Election Officers in advance. Outdoor physical meeting allowed upto 1000 persons or 50% of the capacity of the ground or prescribed limit set by SDMA whichever is lesser. Indoor meeting allowed upto 500 persons or 50% of the capacity of the hall or prescribed limit set by SDMA whichever is lesser. Door to door campaign allowed upto 20 persons excluding security personnel. No road show, physical rally, Pad-yatra, cycle/bike/vehicle rally and procession is allowed till 11th February, 2022.
Further, each political party/candidate shall furnish an undertaking in the application form (under Suvidha) that it shall abide by all the extant instructions/guidelines in this regard. Between 8 pm and 8 am, no rallies and public meetings (akin to campaign curfew) shall be allowed on any campaign day, he added.
Mentioning that political parties shall furnish Star Campaigners’ list with number restricted to 30 for recognised parties and 20 for registered unrecognised political parties, he said that only Shiv Sena had submitted the Star Campaigners’ list so far. He asserted that requests for permission for campaigns by star campaigners may be submitted to the concerned authority at least 48 hours before the start of campaign to make all necessary safety arrangements.
Stating that 9 Auxiliary polling stations had been created in addition to the 2959 polling stations, he added that the total number of polling stations is now 2968. He informed that altogether 3985 requests for postal ballots had been received out of which 773 are for PwD voters and 3212 for 80+ voters. He also stated that dispersal for polling personnel for 330 polling stations would start from P-2 and for 35 polling stations P-3, located in far flung areas of Churachandpur, Chandel, Ukhrul and Tamenglong. And also, 18 Intermediate Strong Rooms had been identified for keeping EVMs by the Polling Personnel of the above polling stations.
Regarding Law & Order and Seizure, the CEO informed that about 17,187 i.e. 74.8% of total license arms (22,957) had been deposited and certain items, including cash, drugs, liquor, gold and others, amounting to Rs. 78 crore had been seized till date.
He further informed that 50 Companies of Central Armed Police Force had been deployed in the State and more 75 Companies will be arriving in the next two weeks. Mentioning on the Election Observers’ issue, he stated that a total of 20 General Observers, 11 Police Observers, 20 Expenditure Observers and 3 Special Observers namely Special General Observer Shri Pravir Krishna, IAS (Retd), Special Police Observer Shri Arun Kumar, IPS (Retd) and Special Expenditure Observer Shri Rajesh Tuteja, Ex IRS (IT) will soon visit the State.
The CEO also stressed that children should not be used for election processes, like campaigning, carrying of campaigning material and all political parties/candidates should comply with ECI Instructions on the matter. He added that Pre certification by MCMC is mandatory for publication of political advertisements in newspapers on poll day and one day prior to poll by political parties/candidates. Further, Manifestoes are not to be released during the prohibitory period (last 48 hours before the close of poll) in both phases as prescribed under Section 126 of the RPA, 1951.
Additional CEO, N. Praveen Singh, Joint CEO, Ramananda Nongmeikapam, State Nodal Officer, Media, W. Phajatombi Devi and concerned officials were also present.