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Bihar: Ahead of elections, Opposition presses for fair play

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 17, 2020

Shaktisinh Gohil, AICC general secretary in-charge for Bihar

Not all parties have the capacity to organise virtual rallies like the BJP, allow us to meet people directly, they say.

Ahead of the Bihar Assembly poll scheduled towards the end of this year, nine Opposition parties have urged the Election Commission to ensure free and fair elections. They demanded that the poll panel should also penalise those who seek votes by creating communal or social polarisation.

The parties claimed that the BJP is getting undue advantage from high decibel social media campaign spending crores of rupees.

The parties welcomed the Election Commission’s decision not to implement postal ballot system for voters above 65 years. “Free and fair elections should be ensured. Postal ballot for elderly should not be implemented in future too. In a State like Bihar, criminal elements in the political system may misuse this,” said AICC general secretary in-charge of the State Shaktisinh Gohil.

The parties also suggested that the number of electronic voting machines for a polling booth should be increased.

Gohil said there are thousand voters approximately for a polling booth and they must be given at least four EVMs so that voting will be possible by keeping social distancing.

The parties said each candidate of every political party should have equal opportunity in reaching out to people.

“BJP using money and power is holding virtual rallies. Others who do not have such resources should be allowed to go to people directly,” Gohil said.

Other than the Congress, CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML)and RJD attended the virtual meeting with the panel.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who also attended the meeting, said they have asked EC to create conditions for usual campaign ensuring maximum voter participation.

He said there should be a level playing field for all contestants by fixing a limit for expenditure on digital campaigns and penalisation of those fomenting communal or social polarisation.

Earlier, Yechury had written to EC against implementation of the amendments to Conduct of the Election Rules that allows people with disabilities and those who are 80 years of age or above to opt for postal ballot during the general elections to Parliament and State Assemblies.

“Contrary to past practice, the current changes in the Rules, both in October, 2019 and that on June 19, 2020 have not been preceded by any consultation with the political parties whatsoever. From the media reports we are constrained to infer that the tearing hurry that the ECI displays is on account of the impending Bihar Assembly elections scheduled to be held in November, 2020,” Yechury had said in the letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.

Published on July 17, 2020

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