DEC reviews poll preps in MP

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Bhopal, Oct 31 (UNI) Deputy Election Commissioner (DEC) R Balakrishnan today said that impartial behaviour of poll officials in Madhya Pradesh would be a key factor for the November 27 single-phase polling.

Talking to newspersons here after a meeting with Chief Electoral Officer J S Mathur, Director-General of Police (DGP) S K Raut and Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Vinod Chaudhary plus video-conferencing with divisional commissioners and district collectors, Mr Balakrishnan said, ''strict instructions were given to officials concerned to follow Election Commission of India (ECI) guidelines and action will be initiated if anyone fails to comply.'' Mr Balakrishnan, who was here to review preparations after Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswamy's visit last week, said that district collectors would not be given the responsibility of returning officers. Other government officers would be deployed instead.

''Collectors will concentrate on other important tasks,'' he added.

The ECI had directed deputing a nodal police officer in each centre where nomination papers were being submitted from today.

''Filing of nomination papers is being video-graphed and compact discs will be handed over to 200 observers deployed in polling stations,'' the DEC said.

A ''vulnerability mapping'' system would be introduced in Madhya Pradesh to identify ''critical'' booths.

''Instead of terming booths as sensitive and hypersensitive, the ECI will identify critical booths in vulnerable areas. But it will be clear after candidates' names are announced,'' he clarified.

Regarding security measures, the DEC said he had comprehensive talks with the DGP and the Addl CS (Home). ''We are in the process of finalising security plans. Central Reserve Police Force personnel will be deployed in Madhya Pradesh after discharging poll duties in Chhattisgarh,'' Mr Balakrishnan said.

District returning officers and police superintendents were directed to arrest anti-social elements and preventive measures would also be taken. Non-bailable warrants would be issued against hardcore criminals.

Observers were also asked to meet political parties' representatives and candidates for ensuring transparent electioneering.

Mr Raut had provided a clarification to the ECI about his reported clean chit to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur who stands accused of the Malegaon blasts.

UNI BDG GL AS2043

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