In an exclusive interview with Jagran Post, Vijay Dev, Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi, said that the elections in Delhi this time will be like never before as the Commission has introduced several mechanisms afresh. The CEO also added that the Election Commission has adopted zero tolerance policy against the violation of model code of conduct in the assembly elections.

What is course of action to check the flow of blackmoney and monitor the funding of political parties in run up to the Assembly elections?

We have made a detailed institutional mechanism in order to avert the adverse effect of blackmoney in electioneering. Under the mechanism, we have very strict expenditure monitoring, our flying squads are on field and as soon as the notification will be issued our statics surveillance teams will swing into action and through all these means we will ensure that blackmoney doesn’t disturb the electoral process. Apart from that, a joint strategy has been made in collaboration with income tax department, financial intelligence unit, banks and airport authority to keep a tight vigil on flow of money.

Do you think frisking of politicians will help curb the use of blackmoney?

Definitely, the basic objective of guidelines of Election Commission is to check the disturbance in electoral process caused by flow of money. These instructions will definitely make positive impact.

What steps have been taken to get rid of fake voters in electoral roll?

We conducted a detailed household survey to indentify how many people are in shifted, expired or replicated category. After following the due process, names of nearly 14 lakh ineligible voters were deleted from the electoral roll. We also used software for de-duplication which is a continuous process and it will continue in future also. Along with it, our focus is to add names of eligible voters. We have added almost 15 lakh new names, mostly youth and women.

What steps are being taken by the Delhi Election Commission to enroll transgender and what kind of response you are getting?

We have special focus on enrolling transgender and we are satisfied with our success. We are not only enrolling them but also trying to increase their voter turnout.

In light of the complaints by political parties to the EC that various departments are issuing different rules for enforcement of the model code of conduct, what steps are being taken for their redressal?

For this, we have already introduced single window system at all the DC offices. According to which, there is an ACP or Inspector level of officer who will be nodal officer of giving permission. Officials of various government organizations like MCD, NDMC,DDA, land and building department and fire department have been given responsibility to carry out this work. This facility has been introduced for the first time and I believe that we have facilitated all the political parties by introducing it.

So many FIRs have been registered against political parties for violating model code of conduct with highest against Aam Aadmi Party. Some of the party workers claim that they are being targeted unnecessarily. What is your observation?

We have zero tolerance against violation of model code of conduct by any political party. Sometimes X party violates model code of conduct more than Y and on other day Y party violates more than Z party. We have instructed our officials to take action as per law for any violation and Delhi Election Commission requests all political parties to strictly follow model code of conduct.

Many times it has been seen that voters with valid ID do not find their names in the voters’ list. What is your plan to fix such problems?

I think it is very important to mention that having voter ID doesn’t guarantee right to vote. If you have voter ID in your hand and on that basis you want to be allowed to cast your vote then it is legally not possible. Making of voter card is a onetime exercise and if the voter gets shifted from that place or died, his name will automatically be removed from the electoral roll but the voter ID issued by the EC will remain in the possession of the voter.

As I mentioned, issuance of voter card is onetime process, whereas the electoral roll is a dynamic process. The message should go clear and loud that the voter card doesn’t necessarily give right to vote but the name in the electoral roll do so. For getting enrolled in the voters’ list, one requires to fill up a form-6. Voter can check his/her name in electoral list by either visiting our website or sending SMS to the EC. We will give advertisements in newspapers for this under our awareness programme.

As EC plans to introduce Vote Verification Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system, could you please explain about its benefit to the system?

Basically, it’s a pilot project launched as per order of the Supreme Court and some districts of Delhi have been chosen for that. Under this programme, there will be a printer attached with the normal EVM machine with a screen on it where you can see that vote has been cast in favour of candidate for whom you have pressed button. The machine will print a small slip which will have details of your vote. The voter will not be able to take the slip because it will get stored in the machine and in case of any dispute those slips will be deemed to a proof. As this is a pilot project we will be using it in some particular assembly constituencies.

Is there any plan to educate people in rural areas about using of None Of The Above (NOTA) option? Has EC decided any symbol for illiterate voters?

We have decided to run an awareness campaign for NOTA in which we make people know about the option suggested by the Supreme Court. Election Commission of India has finalized no symbol for NOTA and decided to write ‘None of The Above’.

What will be the scene if number of votes against NOTA exceeds the total number of votes against all candidates in a constituency?

It will have no impact. It will make difference only after the law is amended.

There have been surge in high critical polling premises. what steps are being taken for that?

Identifying of critical polling premises is a process which is executed very seriously by us. I won’t disclose the number of critical polling premises but I would say that we are ensuring proper security for all the critical polling stations in order to conduct free and fair elections. All the arrangements have been made for that and there are multiple options, one of which is videography.

Raghwendra Shukla/JPN