Election Commission for ban on opinion poll

Kolkata: Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi on Sunday favoured banning of opinion polls with the enforcement of the model code of conduct and said the constitutional body should also be empowered with the right to deregister fake political parties.

"I suggest that opinion poll should be banned with the enforcement of the model code of conduct," Quraishi told the Second Regional Consultation on Electoral Reforms, organised by the Union Law and Justice ministry here.

The Election Commission has already regulated exit polls.

The commission, he said, which enjoys the power of giving registration to political parties, should be empowered for deregistration of fake parties. "This is urgent."

Stating that there were 1,200 political parties in the country, he said of these 150 were active political parties.

"Most of the rest are fake."

Calling for stringent action to curb the growth of money power and paid news, Quraishi said the EC had, time and again, suggested that persons having criminal records be debarred from contesting any election.

The CEC said it was also opposed to state funding of elections. "If it is done, political parties will get more money and there is possibility of misuse of money."

He suggested that period of punishment for disqualification of candidates be extended from three years to five years.

Quraishi said EC would distribute voters slips bearing its symbol to electors.

This would be introduced during the West Bengal Assembly election, he said. "It has been found that political parties tend to offer gifts and even bribes to voters while distributing such slips 48 hours ahead of the polls which has to be curbed."

This system was introduced in the Bihar assembly elections, the CEC said.

Quraishi said that Assembly elections would be held in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Pondicherry simultaneously.

The results would also be declared simultaneously.

Speaking on the occasion, Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily said the first regional consultation on electoral reforms was held in Bhopal to gather public opinion.

Seven such regional consultations would be held on electoral reforms with the last at Delhi in the form of national consultation on Aptil 2 and 3, he said.