RJD leaders meet Chief Election Commissioner, demands removal of NOTA option

Patna:  An Election Commission (EC) team led by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi arrived in the state capital on Friday on a two-day visit to assess preparations for the forthcoming Bihar Assembly elections.The CEC, Election Commissioner
rjd leaders meet chief election commissioner...
PTI 08 Aug 2015, 11:43:00 AM IST

Patna:  An Election Commission (EC) team led by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi arrived in the state capital on Friday on a two-day visit to assess preparations for the forthcoming Bihar Assembly elections.

The CEC, Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Jyoti and Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha met representatives of political parties separately and sought their opinion, suggestions and took their requests with regard to the elections. A delegation of the ruling JD(U) led by its state president Vashisht Narayan Singh submitted a ten point memorandum seeking various measures to ensure free and fair polls.

JD(U) spokesperson and MLC Neeraj Kumar said "our party has demanded adequate deployment of Central Paramilitary Forces including CRPF, BSF and Rapid Action Force. Police forces from such states, whose impartiality has been under doubt, should not be deployed in the state. If needed, forces should be brought from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Jharkhand." Kumar said his party drew the EC's attention to the fact that the polls would be held during important festivals and occasions like Dushehra, Diwali, Chhath and Muharram.

"At such a time, anti-social elements may try to incite communal passions. Since the administration will work under the supervision of the EC, our leaders have asked it to ensure strict measures to maintain communal harmony and peace," he said. A five-member delegation of the RJD, a JD(U) ally in the coming elections, was led by its state president Ram Chandra Purvey, while its legislative party leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui, MLC Bhola Yadav, general secretary Mundrika Singh Yadav and Chittaranjan Gagan were part of the delegation.

"We (RJD) have demanded mini-booths in localities inhabited by people belonging to Scheduled Castes, extremely backward castes and other weaker sections are able to caste their votes without any fear or obstruction from musclemen," Bhola Yadav said. Yadav also said the RJD has demanded that the option of NOTA be removed from Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) as illiterate or less educated voters were unable to differentiate it with other symbols. 

"Over 60 lakh votes were wasted during the last Lok Sabha polls due to the NOTA provision. We have also requested the EC to use latest EVMs and conduct videography of all polling stations to boost up confidence of the downtrodden," Yadav added. The RJD delegation appealed the EC not to ban the use of traditional vehicles like 'tamtams' (single horse drawn carriages) and bullock carts for campaigning in the elections as animal rights body PETA has demanded.

It also requested the EC to stop BJP from defacing public and private property across the state by writing on the walls. Meanwhile, the BJP petitioned EC to remove Bihar Home Department principal secretary Amir Subhani from his post to ensure free and fair polls.

The party delegation led by its state president Mangal Pandey said "The closeness of Subhani with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is well-known. He has continuously remained the Home Department principal secretary in Kumar's government since 2009 though all other officials were transferred. Subhani was shifted by former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, but was reinstated in the Home Department after Kumar again took charge." The BJP demanded the polls in three or four phases, all polling centres be covered by central forces to ensure fair elections and sought the EC review all recent administrative transfers done by the JD(U) government.

"We have appealed the EC to identify all tainted officials right from those at top posts to Station House Officer (SHO) level and keep them away from poll related duties. We have also demanded that those posted at one place for three years be removed," Pandey said. Among its 20 demands, the BJP said each polling centre in Naxal-affected districts should have maximum 600 voters only, instead of 1,000 as voting time in such areas was limited from 7 AM to 3 PM.

It also demanded all booths and polling centres to be covered with CCTV and live webcast of the footage. BJP allies Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) also sent their delegations and put their demands before the EC team.

LJP delegation was led by its deputy president and MP Ramchandra Paswan, while RLSP delegation was led by its general secretary Shambu Nath Sinha. Their demands were on the lines of those made by the BJP. Both parties demanded adequate security and deployment of central forces to ensure transparency in the polls.

Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) president Ashok Chaudhary led the party delegation and demanded central forces for all polling centres and state police forces only from neighbouring states like West Bengal, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

"We have demanded that election slips should be given to every genuine voter at least a day in advance so that people know their exact status and this may result in higher vote percentage. We have also asked the EC to remain more vigilant against communal elements as the polls are being held during the festive season," Chaudhary said.

The EC team would meet senior administrative officials including state Chief Secretary, Commissioners, IT officers and others tomorrow and was expected to return with the feedback and announce the election dates soon.

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