Natl Conf of SECs begins

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Bhopal, July 3 (UNI) The Ninth All India Conference of State Election Commissioners, which got underway here today, stressed on state governments providing necessary administrative and financial autonomy equivalent to the SECs' central counterparts.

The two-day event, inaugurated by Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami, urged initiation of immediate action by all state governments on this issue that would also be pursued through the Panchayati Raj Ministry and Election Commission of India (ECI).

Addressing the meet, Mr Gopalaswami stressed on the role of SECs in conducting polls to panchayati raj institutions and municipal bodies. He assured that the ECI would act as facilitator to SECs and advocated autonomy of state committees.

The CEC admitted that the work of SECs was more difficult than that of the ECI and stressed the need for enhancing prestige of the office.

''In view of a Supreme Court judgement, the entire matter has attained a sense of urgency,'' Madhya Pradesh Election Commissioner A V Singh said while interacting with the press here.

Mr Singh said that altogether seven issues were discussed thus far -- during the meet -- including speedy examination of draft model bills related to municipal, panchayati raj elections and uniform conditions of service for SECs, a scheme for central funding for strengthening SECs and amendment of laws for using electronic voting machines in panchayati raj polls.

''Our motto is to conduct free and fair elections through improved systems and correcting discrepancies in voters' lists for which participation of common people is imperative,'' he added.

UNI BDG AC 1923

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