Hyderabad: A six member team of officials of ECI (Election Commission of India) headed by Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha arrived here on Tuesday evening and immediately got down to work with respect to assessing the readiness of the State for conducting polls to the Legislative Assembly.
The team headed straight to the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer in the Secretariat and met delegations from eight recognised political parties to seek their views on conducting the elections. The ECI team included Deputy Election Commissioners Sandeep Saxena, Sudeep Jain, Director General Dilip Sharma and Dhirendra Ohja and Principal Secretary Sumit Mukherjee.
After 10 minute meetings with each political party, the ECI team is scheduled to meet the Chief Electoral Officer, nodal officers, State police officials, Income Tax, Excise and Transport Department officials for an hour.
Though the meetings with the parties were scheduled to begin at 6.30 pm, they got off a little late with the ECI officials reaching the Secretariat behind schedule.
On Wednesday morning, the ECI officials are scheduled to meet Collectors, Superintendents of Police, and other officials from 31 districts. In the post-lunch session, they will continue the meeting till 4.15 pm.
Following this, a meeting will be held with Chief Secretary, Director General of Police, and senior officials of Home, Finance, Excise, and Commercial Taxes Departments.
This is to be followed by a press conference after which the ECI team is scheduled to fly back to New Delhi.
Caretaker govt should not continue for long: TRS
The Telangana Rashtra Samiti has urged the Election Commission of India to hold elections to State Legislative Assembly at the earliest.
Speaking to press persons after meeting the team of ECI officials at the Secretariat, TRS Lok Sabha member B Vinod Kumar said: “We explained to them that it was not advisable for a caretaker government to continue for a long time. Elections are going to be held in Telangana for the first time and every eligible citizen must be able to exercise their right to cast their vote.”
With reference to deletions in the voters list, Kumar said some of them could be on account of people moving to Andhra Pradesh after the bifurcation. “And in the event anyone’s name is deleted by mistake, they can be re-included as per procedure. With respect to those who have migrated from the State, their right to vote must be protected,” he said.
He said allegations that the ECI was somehow under the influence of Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, was unfortunate. “All that the Chief Minister did was to cite the Supreme Court observation about conducting elections in a State after dissolution of the Assembly. It is not proper for parties such as the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party that have been in power to level such allegations,” he said.
BJP seeks extension for enrolment
The State unit of BJP has urged the Election Commission to make the revised draft voters list available to political parties as announced earlier, and to all eligible citizens to enrol as voters till the announcement of the election schedule for the State Assembly.
In a memorandum submitted to the visiting EC team on Tuesday, the BJP also urged the Commission to ensure that all the new voters were duly enrolled and figure in the electoral list.
“As over 2,000 tribal thandas and gudems have been converted into gram panchayats, separate polling stations may be set up in these panchayats for the convenience of tribal voters,” the BJP said, adding that a dedicated team of officers should be appointed to monitor the ongoing misuse of power, official machinery and expenditure.
The BJP also sought 15 day extension from the date of Ganesh immersion for enrolment of voters in view of Moharrum and Ganesh Chaturthi. “People of Telangana will be busy celebrating the festivals, and the government machinery will also be busy supervising and making arrangements for immersion and maintaining law and order,” the BJP said, seeking the extension.
N Indrasena Reddy, party’s national executive member, S Malla Reddy, State vice-president, and B Venkat Reddy, BJP Election Committee Coordinator, represented the party at the meeting.
Stating that in the existing draft voters list, house numbers of individual voters were missing even on the first page, the BJP said the Nazarinaksha attached to the voters list was not visible and sometimes very vague.
Some people went to court which instructed the authorities to collect money and issue copies of the voters’ lists. The authorities collected money but did not issue any copies, they alleged.
The party also alleged that there were several errors in the voters list prepared earlier including large scale and targeted deletion of votes. “Consequent to the protests by political parties and after NGOs working for democracy made several representations, the EC allowed fresh enrolment and prepared a draft voters list. This draft voters list announced by the Election Commission should become the basis for electioneering including fixation of polling stations,” the party said.
Congress questions revision of rolls
The Congress party on Tuesday sought to know from the Election Commission of India how it was possible to complete the process of revision of electoral rolls that was originally spread over four months in just four weeks.
Speaking to press persons after meeting with ECI officials, Congress party leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy said he and his colleagues explained that lakhs of names were being removed from the electoral rolls illegally. “We also told them that Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao behaved in an unonstitutional manner by declaring he knew when the elections will be held,” he said.
“The festival of Vinayaka Chavithi for the Hindus and observation of Muharram by Muslims will also impact the revision of rolls. We also brought to the notice of the ECI that there was severe staff shortage in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer and that the State government has not provided him with the required staff so far,” he said.
MIM wants elections at the earliest
The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen has asked the Election Commission of India to conduct elections to the State Legislative Assembly at the earliest.
Briefing press persons after meeting the team of ECI officials at the Secretariat here on Tuesday evening, the AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said: “We informed the ECI that festivals and other religious occasions keep coming and these should not be allowed to interfere with the election process.”
“We asked that the polls be conducted at the earliest and before the elections in other States,” he said.
TTDP urges EC not to deprive eligible voters of their right
The Telangana Telugu Desam Party has urged the Election Commission of India to ensure that no eligible voter is denied the opportunity to cast his or her ballot in the coming Asssembly elections in the State.
Senior party leader and TTDP politburo member Ravula Chandrashekhar Reddy said his party, in its submission to the ECI team, said it was not right to change the date of eligibility for inclusion in the voters list from January 1, 2019 to January 1, 2018.
“We requested the ECI that every individual who is eligible to vote as per the original schedule of revision of electoral rolls that made January 1, 2019 as the eligible date, should be included in the voters list,” he said.
Meanwhile, the CPM leaders sought an explanation on the removal of nearly 30 lakh voters from the electoral rolls.
CPI leader Chada Venkat Reddy said in their meeting with the ECI team, they wanted to know how the Chief Minister also knew of the election schedule which he spoke about after announcement of the decision to dissolve the Assembly.
The YSCRP party said it was not fair to reschedule revision of electoral rolls so that elections to the Assembly could be advanced.