The Telegraph
Thursday , April 3 , 2014
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Sarhul spirit under code scanner
Video vigil on political festivity

Sarhul celebrations were held under video surveillance for the first time in the state on Wednesday, but not for security reasons.

The measure was taken to keep a hawk’s eye on political leaders and ensure they did not violate the model code of conduct clamped for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Election guidelines allow a candidate to put up banners or posters to greet people on the occasion of a festival, but prohibits him or her from seeking votes during any religious festivity or procession.

Ranchi district administration had deployed 23 video surveillance teams in all to keep an eye on political leaders taking part in Sarhul processions and rituals.

If this was not enough, another 22 static surveillance teams were positioned at strategic locations and 26 flying squads moved around to check “unusual activities” like distributing freebies, alluring voters with promises, closed door meetings, throwing parties, among others.

Hence, it was no surprise that state politicians danced to the tune of the flute, mandar and madol, but they did mind their words and actions during the Sarhul processions in the capital.

“Candidates are already aware of dos and don’ts under the model code of conduct. But still strict orders had come from Election Commission to keep an eye on every movement of candidates, their supporters and items used for campaigning. So we were alert and deployed video surveillance teams,” said Ameet Kumar, subdivisional magistrate in Ranchi.

At least 50 Sarna Samitis were granted permission to use loudspeakers but asked to abide strictly by the EC guidelines and not allow nominees to use them for influencing voters.

Last Sunday, chief election commissioner V.S. Sampath had also reminded the political parties not to take advantage of religious functions.