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Model Code comes into force; 75 CAPFs companies to help conduct February 14 Punjab polls

With the ECI announcing elections for 117 Assembly seats in Punjab on February 14, Model Code of Conduct has come into force with immediate effect, state Chief Electoral Officer S Karuna Raju said on Saturday
Punjab Chief Electoral Officer Dr S Karuna Raju speaking to the media in Chandigarh on January 8, 2022. Photo: DPR

Chandigarh, Jan 8 (MNN) With the ECI announcing elections for 117 Assembly seats in Punjab on February 14, Model Code of Conduct has come into force with immediate effect, state Chief Electoral Officer S Karuna Raju said on Saturday.

Static surveillance teams and flying squads have been operational all across the state to check any violation of the model code of conduct, he told the media here.

Adequate security forces have been deployed for free, fair and safe electoral processes in the state.

The poll notification will be issued on January 21. The last date of filing nominations will be January 28 while scrutiny will be done on January 29. The last date for withdrawal is January 31. Counting will be done on March 10, 2022.

Raju said that 75 companies of Central Armed Police Forces have been allotted to Punjab and 50 companies are reaching the state on January 10, 2022. As soon as the companies will arrive, they will start area domination operations.

Raju said that in view of spread of Omicron variant of coronavirus, people are requested to adhere to Covid-appropriate behaviour.

He also requested political parties to strictly follow mandatory guidelines and encouraged them to opt for virtual campaign. There will be no campaign from 8pm to 8am.

As per the Election Commission of India directions, no public rallies will be held till January 15, 2022, after which the ECI will review the situation.

“There will be zero tolerance for violations and action under the Disaster Management Act will be taken against anyone found violating Covid norms,” the CEO warned.

Raju said that political parties fielding candidates with criminal cases will have to publish in print media the reasons for their selection and also as to why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as nominees.

“The details shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of a candidate in one vernacular newspaper and one national newspaper as well as on the official social media platforms of the political party concerned, including Facebook and Twitter.”

Any political party that failed to submit such compliance report with the ECI may be held in contempt of the Supreme Court, Raju warned.

He said that people can check the criminal antecedents or otherwise of candidates on ‘Know Your Candidate’ on Voter Helpline mobile application.

In order to encourage maximum voter turnout in Punjab Assembly Elections, the ECI has allowed those aged 80 and above, persons with disability (more than 40 per cent) and coronavirus positive patients to exercise their franchise via postal ballots.

After the enforcement of model code of conduct, the Chief Electoral Officer held a meeting with DCs-cum-DEOs and CPs/SSPs and issued directions to strictly implement the code of conduct in letter and spirit.

Raju also brought all the ECI guidelines to the notice of the state Chief Secretary and all other higher officials.

He said that C-vigil app has been launched to redress complaints registered on it within 100 minutes.

On another IT app ‘Suvidha’, candidates can apply for various permissions for rallies etc which would be dealt with quickly.

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