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Ensure fair elections

Ensure fair elections
The campaigning for the Assembly polls in Punjab and Goa has ended, with the two politically crucial states all set to elect the new state Assemblies on February 4. The polls in the two states are very crucial as after a long time the two states are witnessing a multi-corner contest with Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) all set to make an impact in the two states. The onus is on the Election Commission to ensure fair polls in the two states as the entrenched political interests are facing a serious challenge to their monopoly. The two states so far have witnessed bipolar polls and it is after a long time that a new party has emerged on the political scene of the two states. Keeping this in mind the Election Commission has issued detailed guidelines to the District Election Officers in Punjab to ensure prohibition 48 hours before the end of Assembly polls in the state. State Chief Electoral Officer VK Singh has said that the prohibition has started at 5 pm on Thursday and will continue till 5 pm on Saturday, the day of polling. This is an important move, as distribution of liquor by entrenched interests on the day before polling influences the election outcome. Same prohibition orders have also been issued in Goa, both the states being infamous for high sale of alcohol.

The Election Commission has asked all the political leaders, functionaries or party workers who are not the registered voters to vacate the constituency in the two states during the period leading to the polls. Necessary guidelines have been issued to the police and civil administration all across the two states to ensure that outsiders who are not required leave immediately. The poll panel has briefed all political parties on the move so that the EC directive could be followed without any hiccups. The Election Commission has also imposed complete prohibition on broadcasting or propagating election-related material on TV, radio, or newspapers. Any such material influencing the voters would not be permissible during the 48 hours before the poll. The Election Commission has barred the political parties and candidates in Punjab and Goa from publishing advertisement in newspapers on 3rd and 4th of this month without its prior approval. The Commission has asked them to get pre-certified the advertisements from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee at the state and district levels before their publication. The poll body said that the decision has been made in view of past instances of advertisements of offending and misleading nature in print media on such occasion which vitiate the elections in the last stage. In its direction to the Chief Electoral Officers of the two states, the Commission asked them to issue directions to political parties, candidates, and newspapers in this regard. The direction has come into forces immediately. This move is to be much appreciated as the "money bag" politicians may use the tool of "paid news" to sabotage chances of more deserving candidates in the polls.
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