Many more 'NO's in panchayat poll

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 07 December 2001 22:36 IST

No loudspeakers, no vehicle-processions, no hoardings and not even advertisements. It will be a unique panchayat election in the country this time, courtesy Goa.

Amending the code of conduct for panchayat polls, Goa’s State Election Commission has banned most of the things for the election campaign, which demands ‘money power’.

"It is to avoid wasteful expenditure and expenditure-war, in order to allow level-playing field for each and every grassroot citizen", states Prabhakar Timble, the state election commissioner.

The tiny state is going for the panchayat polls on 20 January for all the 185 village panchayats, having 1413 wards, involving over nine lakh voting population spread in all 11 talukas of Goa.

As per the notification, no vehicle with loudspeakers fitted on it will be allowed for a campaign, though there is no bar on using loudspeakers for corner meetings or public meetings, but with prior permission from the authorities and within the prescribed time.

Going a step ahead, the SEC has also banned procession of vehicles, including two-wheelers, but bicycles are not a restriction. Incidentally, however, Goa’s bicycle strength is much smaller than two-wheelers.

Besides blanket ban on any kind of elections hoarding and putting posters, handbills or banners on public and private property without prior permission, the SEC this time has even banned advertisements through newspapers or electronic media.

"Since constituency of a ward is very small and compact in size, such kind of expensive stuff is not at all required for the election campaign", opines SEC secretary Raghuvir Sanvordekar.

Lauding SEC’s pioneering efforts, the state government has also permitted the election authority to reduce the campaign period, from the date of withdrawal to the polling date, to mere seven days rather than 15 days.

Prior to this, Goa’s SEC was the first to introduce identification card compulsory for polling in the zilla panchayat elections held in February last year. Following this, the SEC had also made only photo identity card mandatory at a small municipal elections in Ponda in August this year.

"Making photo identity compulsory may not be possible for panchayat polls since my survey indicates that half of Goan population does not contain such identity", states Timble. Instead, he plans to go back and implement the system of making document-identity like ration card compulsory.

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