New Delhi, Oct 6: The countdown has begun — Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh will go to polls on December 1, setting the trend for the general elections next year. Mizoram will vote earlier, on November 20.
Chief election commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh, who announced the poll schedule, said the “model code of conduct comes into effect from today”. Counting of votes for Mizoram will take place on December 2, while for the others, on December 4, he added.
The last date for filing of nominations in Mizoram is November 3; for others it is November 14. The last date for withdrawal of nominations in Mizoram is November 6; for others it is November 17.
In accordance with the Supreme Court’s directive on electoral reforms, candidates will have to file affidavits disclosing their educational qualification, moveable and immovable properties owned by them or their spouses and dependants, liabilities and criminal antecedents, if any. “Filing of affidavits is mandatory,” Lyngdoh said.
Once the affidavits are filed, returning officers will make available the copies to other candidates, the general public and the media on the day a candidate files his or her nomination. District election officers will compile the information on the affidavits and give them to people who wish to know about the candidates.
“The commission appeals to the citizens and all interested parties to co-operate with the election authorities for the widest dissemination of this information,” Lyngdoh said.
The apex court’s directive, asking all candidates to file affidavits, was criticised by all political parties, but the Election Commission implemented it on March 27.
The parties now say they do not have any reservations on the court order anymore.
“Initially, we had reservations about such rules because we felt even political cases can be clubbed as criminal cases. However, now we have no problems with it after the Supreme Court gave a directive,” said CPI leader D. Raja.
Lyngdoh said if a candidate furnishes wrong information, the case will be taken up by the high court after the elections. Returning officers do not have the power to disqualify a candidate on the basis of the affidavits. A person who wants to question a candidate’s credentials will have to move court. The poll panel chief said one of the achievements of the commission has been to cleanse electoral rolls and make them accurate.
“A number of complaints were received from Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The commission has subsequently rectified the errors,” he said.
The commission had run into a spat with Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh on this issue.
“Fifty per cent of presiding officers and first-time polling officers in each district of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh will be from outside the district,” Lyngdoh said.