Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat on Wednesday said that Telangana was ready to go to the polls on December 7. This announcement came after the CEC spent three days in Hyderabad along with senior members of the Election Commission, reviewing the poll preparedness of the state.
"During the visit, the Commission met representatives of various political parties to understand their issues and concerns. The EC also reviewed the works of District Election Officers (DEOs) and Superintendents of Police of all the districts. It had detailed interactions with the Chief Secretary, DGP, Home Secretary and other senior officials of the state. The Commission also discussed strategy with various enforcement agencies such as Income-Tax, State Excise, Narcotics Control Bureau and also representatives of Banks," a press release by the EC stated.
Speaking about the electoral roll, Rawat said that some political parties complained about certain irregularities in the voter list in certain areas and demanded its rectification, while others brought to the Commission's attention the issue of distance of polling booths for some villages in tribal areas.
"Political parties complained about money, liquor and token distribution and demanded that effective action be taken. They alleged that money was being transported into the state through various means of transport and demanded effective checks," Rawat said.
The CEC also spoke about one political party, the TRS, expressing its apprehension about the presence of intelligence officers from Andhra Pradesh in Telangana and demanding action. The party also complained that advertisements of the ruling TDP government in Andhra Pradesh made its way to newspapers in Telangana, thereby potentially affecting the election process.
The EC said that it took note of all the concerns and suggestions and said that it will put in place an effective mechanism to ensure the smooth conduct of the entire poll process in a free, fair and inclusive manner.
"The Commission directed the state election machinery to ensure effective monitoring and vigilance at all levels to address the concern of the political parties and instill confidence in the electorate to exercise their franchise without any threat, intimidation or inducement," the press release stated.
In a first, the EC also said that it was appointing 'Accessibility Observers' besides General, Expenditure, Police and Micro observers in the state, to ensure that voters with disabilities did not have any trouble while casting their vote.
Stating that a 'cVIGIL' mobile application had been launched where voters could file complaints of violation of Model Code of Conduct, the EC said that they were also using EVMs and VVPATs in all polling stations.
Out of the total 119 seats in Telangana, 88 were general while 19 were reserved for the SC community and 12 seats were reserved for the ST community,
A decrease in number of voters
The CEC also pointed out that while compared to the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, the total number of voters had decreased in the final electoral list that was published for the 2018 elections.
Against 2.82 crore total voters (1.44 crore male voters and 1.38 female voters) in 2014, the latest electoral roll had only 2.73 crore total voters, out of which 1.38 crore were male voters and 1.35 crore were female voters.
When asked about the reason for the decline, Rawat said, "There are a variety of reasons, but it mainly has to do with voters not informing the Commission about striking their name of the rolls either because of death or shifting of residence. We can assure you that every voter in the final list published now is genuine."