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3 district collectors in eye of storm

Bhubaneswar, April 2: Election commissioners today said that they had received complaints from political parties against three district collectors.

Two election commissioners — H.S. Brahma and Nasim Zaidi — today met officials and representatives of political parties and reviewed the arrangements being made by the authorities to ensure free and fair polls.

“There were complaints against three district election officers,” said Brahma. District collectors are appointed as district election officers. Though Brahma named one of the districts as Khurda, he was stopped by his colleague Zaidi.

Brahma said that allegations had been received and that he would not like to name the district collectors before a proper investigation.

“We will certainly look into the allegations to make the electioneering free and fair,” said Brahma. He refused to elaborate on the nature of allegations.

He said that during their interaction with party representatives, they were told that the parties needed more time for campaigning. A single-window system is in place to help the candidates.

“Any permission required by a candidate must be responded within 24 hours,” said Brahma. Besides, he also assured that candidates contesting in districts affected by Left-wing extremism would be provided with adequate security.

Zaidi said that they had got complaints that members of a voluntary organization called Bharat Nirman were being used for political propaganda and they assured the parties that such work would be stopped.

Zaidi said that photo voter slips would be provided to the electors by their booth-level officers at their doorsteps before the election.

“The officers are bound to procure signatures from the voters. There will be bulk delivery of the voter’s slips. The original voter slip should be carried at the time of voting and no photocopy of the slip will be accepted,” said Zaidi.

To check campaigning through social media, he said that candidates had been told to provide their email ids and social networking accounts.

“Besides, the social media have been told to co-operate with the Election Commission. They have been requested to ensure that objectionable posts are removed,” said Zaidi.

The commissioners highlighted that steps were being taken to keep a tab on the expenditures of the candidates. The observers have been told to videograph meetings and rallies and take appropriate action.