CEC ''tired of holding polls frequently''

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Hyderabad, Oct 20 (UNI) Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami today advocated fixed term for legislative bodies and stated that he was tired of holding elections frequently.

Delivering the 23rd Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Memorial Lecture at the National Police Academy, he said, ''the EC is practically conducting polls every month in one or the other part of the country.

I am tired of holding elections frequently.'' Initially, there might be some problems, but over a period, fixed tenure for legislative bodies would be good for the country, he felt, adding this would also facilitate simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and all state Assemblies.

He suggested the Centre to make the electoral photo identity card mandatory for all purposes.

In the present ''first-past-the-post'' system, many candidates got elected, securing as low as 15 per cent of votes, he said, stressing the need for making it compulsory for a candidate to poll 51 per cent of the votes to get elected.

The CEC also suggested providing a choice for the voters to reject the candidature of all the candidates in fray.

He opined that ceiling on poll expenditure should also be made applicable to all political parties. It should be subjected to an independent audit.

He also called for prohibiting civil servants from joining political parties for at least five years after resignation or retirement and implement the same from the top, starting with himself and other Election Commissioners.

Referring to increasing complexities in conducting free and fair elections, Mr Gopalaswami said an antidote to violence was massive deployment of forces in the elections held for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly. As many as 650 companies of Central para-military forces were being deployed in every phase and a total of 4,550 companies in a seven phase polling to ensure that there was no murder, poll-related violence, booth capturing and rigging.

In a reference to the misuse of money power in the recent Assembly elections in Karnataka, he said the declared assets of candidates went up from Rs 104 crore in 2004 to a staggering Rs 933 crore in 2008, an increase of 797 per cent. ''For one particular candidate, the increase in assets was 31,526 per cent. The candidate must have benefitted by the economic boom,'' he observed sarcastically.

Referring to steps taken to eliminate bogus voting, he said a first of its kind initiative was launched in Uttar Pradesh to bust bogus voting by preparing a polling station wise list of missing voters wise and by instructing presiding officers to personally doublecheck the list and photograph those in the missing voters list if they find their way to the polling station.

The photo electoral rolls would go a long way in preventing bogus voting, he added.

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