EC seeks report on Railway Ministers new scheme

Thiruvanathapuram: In the wake of the poll schedule announced for five states including West Bengal, the Election Commission has sought a report from the Railway Board on the scheme to provide free rail travel to girl students announced in the Railway budget.

Disclosing this to reporters here, Chief Election Commissioner Y S Quraishi said the EC was awaiting the report and would take a decision on the issue after receiving it.

Quraishi was answering a query on CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury`s comment that EC did not apply the same yardstick on Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee`s new scheme while banning implementation of the `rice for Rs.two per kg` scheme of CPI-M-led LDF government in poll-bound Kerala.

The EC ordered an inquiry based on media reports about Yechury`s comments. "We will not show any discrimination to any states," he said but added EC would not allow any programmes that are meant to influence voters.

On EC stand on `rice for Rs.Two per kg`, he said as the matter was before the Kerala High court, EC would inform the court about its position.

Quraishi, who along with Election Commissioner V S Sampath and H S Brahma held meetings with top state government and police officials on the preparations for April 13 assembly polls, said there would be strict monitoring of expenditure of each candidates.

As part of the new expenditure guidelines, all candidates have to open a bank account for election expenditure, he said.

CEC`s expenditure observers would closely watch the expenditure of each candidate.Instructions have been issued to ensure that no violation of the model code of conduct takes place in any of the five states going to polls, he said.

Adequate number of central forces would be deployed for the smooth conduct of polls.

To check malpractices and irregularities, cameras would be installed in booths. For the first time in Kerala, EC has decided to have web-casting from some polling stations, he said. This would be in addition to the cameras installed at polling stations and video photographing of voting in booths.

The government advertisements about new schemes on TV channels would not be allowed henceforth as it came under model code of conduct,he said.

Similarly, government hoardings with pictures of sitting MLAs put up on road sides referring to new works had been asked to be removed, he said.