Panel tells Karnataka government to observe poll code

Bangalore, March 27 (IANS) The state election commission Wednesday directed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka to strictly observe the model code of conduct (MCC) in the run-up to the single-phase state legislative assembly election May 5.

“We have directed all the state departments to remove content from their respective websites, which are showcasing their achievements as we have to ensure a level-playing field during the electioneering,” state Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha told reporters here.
The poll panel also directed the state government to stop all new projects, identification of beneficiaries of its various socio-economic schemes and issuing ration cards to below poverty line families in compliance with the MCC.
“With the notification of the assembly election last week, provisions of the MCC have been in force since March 20 for all the concerned, especially state officials, political parties and candidates. Violation of the provisions will be viewed seriously and action will be initiated,” Jha said.
The commission has also set up a toll free number – 1950 – for lodging any election-related grievance by the public with an assurance that their complaints will be kept confidential.
“Efforts are on to register every eligible voter and provide him/her with election photo identity card (EPIC), though 98 percent of the electorate has been covered till date,” Jha pointed out.
Of the 400,000 applications received for registration as voters, the panel has issued EPICs to 224,000 and the remaining will be issued by April 7.
On confusion regarding paid news, Jha said guidelines would be sent to the district level media certification and monitoring committees which have been set up to check paid news.
The committee consists of district electoral office (DEO) as chairman, district information officer as member secretary, assistant returning officer, information and broadcasting ministry official, an independent citizen/journalist as recommended by the Press Council of India (PCI) as members.
“The committees have been set up to maintain vigilance to prevent incidence of paid news or surrogate advertisements in print and electronic media in the run-up to the state assembly election on May 5,” Jha said.
Paid news manifest in the form of news articles/reports published about a particular candidate or a party eulogising them or similar news articles/reports denigrating opponents, both intended at unduly influencing voters.