**Bhubaneswar: ** As model code of conduct (MCC) is now in force soon after the dates of general elections-2019 were announced by the Election Commission of India (ECI), Odisha Chief Electoral Officer (CEO today held the first ever all-party meeting here and stressed on strict observance of the do’s and don’ts laid down by the ECI.
Soon after the significant all-party meeting, Odisha CEO Surendra Kumar said, “Election Commission of India hasn’t fixed any limit for party’s expenditure. Has fixed for candidate’s expenditure limit. For Assembly election candidate the expenditure limit is Rs 28 lakh while for the Lok Sabha candidate Rs 70 lakh.”
He further said, “At every assembly constituency we have our Assistant Expenditure Observer appointed by the Election Commission to monitor the election expenditure. Assistant Expenditure Observer maintains a shadow register for the entry of daily expenditure of the candidate. The record of the candidate and the shadow registered is tallied. If any discrepancy in the candidate’s record of expenditure is not shown, Assistant Expenditure Observer directs the candidate to reflect it again.”
“As per the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s directive, the candidates will have to reveal IT-returns of the last five years along with the Permanent Account Number (PAN),” he informed.
Quoting the Supreme Court’s order, the CEO also stressed on for publishing details of the criminal records or cases registered against the candidates through print and electronic media for a minimum of three times within the filing of nomination and end of election campaign. The expenditure borne in this context will also be added to the candidate’s expenditure record.
Talking to media, BJD spokesperson Amar Patnaik said, “Today, the Chief Electoral Officer apprised all the parties about whatever new measures to be followed this time in comparison with the 2014 elections.”
He added, “For example, CVigil application (app) has been introduced this time. We were all informed about it. Also it was apprised how more transparency can be maintained with the EVM.”
He informed, “A candidate having criminal antecedents, if any, has to make public thrice through social media and print media. The names of the newspapers opted by the candidate for the publication should be given in writing to the authority. The publication will be from the candidate’s side and expenses borne by him/her. Let voters come to know what is the kind of candidate we (voters) are selecting and that we are being asked to elect.”
“Whatever social media restrictions are there, they are applicable to all political parties. We are prepared for it. We (BJD) will go by whatever is the requirement of the Election Commission’s guidelines, stipulations and model code of conduct,” the BJD spokesperson stated.
Odisha BJP spokesperson Sameer Mohanty also informed, “As per the new guidelines, candidates have to publicise thrice through mass media about criminal antecedents, if any, within the duration of filing of nomination and voting.”
He added, “On behalf of our party, we sought assurance that the voters are properly handed over the voter slips at the doorsteps of all the enlisted voters by the Booth Level Officers (BLOs).”
“CEO, Odisha apprised us that for the first time VVPAT machine is being introduced in the State here. He amply clarified on the doubts being cast on EVM,” the BJP spokesperson stated.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) representative Shibananda Ray said, “We complained that over 60,000 votes are missing at every parliamentary constituency (21 in Odisha). We enquired why proper notice was not served. This question was not answered today.”
He added, “Why there is four-phase election when it used to be two-phase due to Maoist problems while the State Government claims that such threat has minimized? The CEO replied that this is the discretion of the Election Commission, Delhi.”
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