Code of Conduct in city ahead of election: BBMP pulls down political ads

May 12 is the voting - so plan your holidays around the date. If you see politicians violating the Code of Conduct, you could complain to the officials.

Chief Election Commissioner of Election Commission of India (ECI) Om Prakash Rawat announced the poll dates for Karnataka on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. The election will be held on May 12th across the state in a single phase. Counting of votes will take place on May 15th, 2018.

Full schedule of events:

April 17: Notification

April 24: Last day to submit nomination

April 26: Nomination scrutiny

April 27: Last day to withdraw nomination

May 12: Voting

May 15: Counting and results

Read the full press note from the Election Commission:

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Slew of measures towards free and fair election

Economic Times reports that there are many firsts to this poll. They are:

1) Electronic voting machines will display the photos of candidates.

2) The number of first-time voters in the state is the highest ever – 15,42,000 voters, total 2.2% of the total voters.

3) All polling stations in Bengaluru will have a mock poll to check the working of the EVM before polling begins. This had taken place in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh as well, but on a much smaller scale.

To quote Economic Times, “The Election Commission will allow contestants or their representatives to be part of a mock polling drive. The exercise, confined to the 9,093 polling stations in Bengaluru, will take place between 6 am and 7 am on the day of polling. “At least fifty people would be allowed to cast their votes during the mock drive and they get an opportunity to ascertain whether their vote tallies with the result. The presiding officer, who will conduct the mock poll, will then erase the data before starting the actual poll, ” said N Manjunath Prasad, district election officer for the 28 Assembly constituencies in Bengaluru.

4) BBMP will hand over voter guides to each household this time. These brochures will be in Kannada and English and will have information on date and time of polls, contact details of the booth-level officers (BLOs), important websites, helpline numbers, documents required for identification at the polling station and do’s and don’ts for voters at the polling station. BLOs will distribute voter guides along with photo voter slips. The Election Commission has set a target of 75% voter turnout this year, as opposed 71% in 2013 assembly election.

5) There will be one polling station in each assembly constituency that is managed entirely by women. Election authorities usually made it a point to deploy at least one male member among the polling staff in each polling station, presumably to deal with miscreants. But this time the ECI has decided to that entire polling staff, including the police security personnel in the chosen polling stations will be women. 6) Special arrangements are being made to facilitate participation of persons with disability (PwD). The ECI is currently mapping PwDs in each polling booth.

7) The expense limit is Rs 28 lakh per candidate, but there is no limit on the expense of parties. The calculation of expenditure will begin from the date of issue of gazette notification for elections. So far, election expenditure information was being made public in the form of Form 20, only after the elections. This time, the reports will be published three times during the poll process. According to Karnataka additional CEO KG Jagadeesha, the reports will be published in the revenue officer’s office; people can get a hard copy of the expenditure by paying Re 1.

Read the full press note from Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka here.

BBMP has already started the voter education work, with a session at Maharani College on EVMs and voting.

BBMP Commissioner participating in a voter education programme at Maharani College. Pic: BBMP

Code of Conduct kicks in

Shortly after the announcement of election dates by the central Election Commission, state Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner Manjunath Prasad made a host of announcements related to election, in Bengaluru.

In the backdrop of Model Code of Conduct kicking in, the BBMP is set to take up many measures, including pulling down the political advertising and hoardings across the city. The activity was kickstarted in Malleshwaram on March 27th itself and many illegal banners and hoardings were taken down by the BBMP across the city.

No new project can be announced by any politician in power, during the next 45 days. The government cannot finalise or float fresh tenders, and no appointments or promotions can be made. Only those that are already being implemented can be continued. The code will not come in the way of beneficiary driven schemes, but no new beneficiaries can be added when the code is in place.

Ministers cannot call officials involved in elections for any meeting. Ministers cannot use their official cars for election purposes and vehicles can be used to commute between their residence and office only, according to Election Commission officials.

Distribution of money and gifts to the voters is also banned according to the Code of Conduct. But the political parties have already been reported to have distributed sarees, cookers and other gifts to voters, before the announcement of elections, thus effectively evading the Code of Conduct.

Code of Conduct prohibits the release of funds under MLA LAD/ MPLAD schemes for fresh projects, and use of public buildings, structures or infrastructure for political advertising. It also prohibits government websites from displaying the photos of politicians. It bans political advertisements in media at the cost of public exchequer.

Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar said as many as 1,361 teams have been formed to implement the code. There are 1,503 static surveillance teams, 1,542 flying squads and 1,097 check-posts to see that elections are held in free and fair manner. “Violation of model code of conduct will be dealt with seriously,” he warned, adding that Deputy Commissioners have been directed to keep strict vigil over their violations.

There are eight nodal officers designated by BBMP who are authorised to receive complaints regarding code of conduct violations in each zone. (This article will be updated to add the numbers later.)

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