TT: What is EC’s primary focus for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections?
Dash: To ensure that all are able to cast their votes in a peaceful manner and political parties refrain from illegal practices while seeking votes
What initiatives are you taking to improve voting percentage?
Extensive awareness campaigns are being held across the country
Many abstain from voting because they do not find a suitable candidate. Why isn’t EC talking about the NOTA (none of the above) option?
The EC cannot campaign for NOTA because it is one of the buttons on the EVM. If voluntary organisations generate awareness about NOTA we have no objection
How is EC keeping tabs on aggressive political campaigns?
Every state has a media certifying and monitoring committee to keep tabs on paid news. While a case related to paid news from Jharkhand is sub-judice, EC disqualified Umlesh Yadav, a UP politician, for three years for suppressing her expenses during Assembly elections of 2007. This time, EC has deployed even stronger eyes and ears
Apart from paid news, voters are allured in other ways too
Definitely. The ‘other way’ is the biggest concern for us right now
Can you elaborate?
Money power has emerged as the greatest threat. Innocent people are being allured by various means. This time EC is ready to crack the whip
EC’s state wings have been alerted. We are promoting that bribing for vote is a crime. Giving and accepting bribe is a punitive offence under IPC 171B. Offenders might have to spend a year in jail
What does EC accept as evidence?
Video or audio clips, photographs or any testimonial that can prove that a bribe was offered or accepted
Is the complainant’s identity disclosed?
No, only if the complainant wants to
Why should a citizen report illegal practices?
Anyone who wants clean democracy will help EC expose corruption. EC rewards individuals, organisations for generating awareness and exposing malpractices