EC holds meetings with K'taka officials, political parties

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Bangalore, Apr 4 (UNI) The full bench of the Election Commission was today assured of total cooperation by the Karnataka political parties for conducting free and fair elections in the State, which goes to the polls in three phases next month.

Representatives from all the parties, including Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Janata Dal, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Bahujan Samaj Party, met Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswamy and his deputies and communicated their readiness to extend cooperation.

The Congress delegation, led by former Rajya Sabha member H Hanumanthappa, met the EC team.

Mr Hanumanthappa later told reporters that the Congress had urged the CEC to ensure free and fair elections.

The party also appealed to the EC to take stringent action against any party that tried to lure voters or whip up communal passions to reap political mileage.

The Congress delegation also sought a clarification from the EC on the ban on the use of banners and buntings. ''The EC officials assured to issue a clarification on the issue,'' he said.

CPI(M) State Secretary V G K Menon said the party had urged the EC to ensure that all eligible voters were allowed to vote by producing any form of identification like driving license or ration card in case they did not have the elector's photo identity card.

The party also urged the EC to deploy more forces in the sensitive areas, besides taking stern action against any party indulging in unlawful activities during campaign and polling.

The BJP, NCP, BSP and JD(S) representatives also met the EC team.

The full bench of the EC, including Election Commissioners Navin B Chawla and N Y Qureshi, later convened a meeting of Deputy Commissioners, who were also district electoral officers, and Superintendents of police and reviewed poll preparedness in the State.

Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer M N Vidhyashankar, Chief Secretary N Sudhakar Rao and other senior officials also participated in the meeting.

The EC had on Wednesday announced the election dates for the dissolved State Assembly in three phases on May 10, 16 and 22.

Counting of votes would be taken up on May 25.

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