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Poll model finds takers

Ranchi, Aug. 31: Panchayati raj may be new in Jharkhand, but other states have taken a keen interest in a draft Panchayat Election Act prepared by the Jharkhand election commission.

The model, circulated earlier by the state election commission, came up for discussion at the two-day meeting of the standing committee of State Election Commissioners (SECs) at a Ranchi hotel today.

“The standing committee meeting attended by SECs of 11 states (who are either members or special invitees) is a preparatory exercise before the 18th all India conference of SECs is held in Ranchi during winter,” state election commissioner S.D. Sharma told mediapersons.

“The standing committee meeting is working on the agenda of the national conference that is likely to include such important aspects as electoral reforms, combined electoral roll for all elections and electronic voting in the polls to local bodies,” he further said.

Explaining the specialities of the draft model act, Sharma said that it empowers state election commissions to decide on matters of delimitation (of areas), reservations (for candidates) and conducting polls.

Some states such as Karnataka face problems in conducting indirect elections as required in case of zilla parishad or municipality chairpersons, but the Jharkhand model clearly empowers the panels in this regard.

Some of the possible electoral reforms that were discussed today for inclusion in the agenda of the national meet included a check on expenditures of candidates and malpractice on their part.

Besides, providing central forces for conducting elections of local bodies were also discussed, Sharma added.

The two-day standing committee meeting is being attended by SECs of Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bengal, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Goa and Jharkhand, besides the chairman of the standing committee, R.S. Dhar.