Punjab is all set for polls with the Office of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Punjab making all arrangements to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in the state.Briefing the media, Chief Electoral Officer Dr S Karuna Raju informed that total State machinery is working round the clock to ensure peaceful, free and fair elections. He said that as many as 21499804 electorates including 11298081 Male, 10200996 Female and 727 Transgenders. There are 1304 candidates-1209 Male, 93 Women and Two Transgenders, are in fray in 117 constituencies, he added.He said that of total 1304 candidates-- 231 are from National Parties, 250 from State Parties, 362 from Unrecognised Parties, while 461 are Independent Candidates. He said that as many as 315 contesting candidates are with Criminal Antecedents.Dr Raju said that 24689 polling stations and 51 auxiliary polling stations have been established at 14684 polling station locations of which 2013 are identified as critical, while 2952 are vulnerable pockets. He informed that there would be 1196 Model Polling Stations, 196 Women Managed Polling Stations and 70 PwD managed polling stations. He said that webcasting of all the polling stations is being done. He said that as many as 28328 ballot units and 24740 EVM-VVPATs are being used in this election. There are six Assembly Constituencies including 52-Kharar, 59-Sahnewal, 61-Ludhiana South, 67-Payal, 110-Patiala Rural and 115-Patiala with two Ballot Units, he added.
Divulging more information, the CEO said that apart from three Special State Observers, ECI has appointed 65 General Observers, 50 Expenditure Observers and 29 Police Observers, who are keeping close vigil. As many as 2083 sector officers have been deployed to assist polling parties, he added. He informed that 17 Assembly Constituencies in the state have been identified as Expenditure Sensitive. There are 117 Dispatch Centres and 117 Collection Centres, while 117 EVM Strong Rooms have been established at 67 locations in the state, he informed.He said that Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) including Potable Water, Tent & Chairs, at least one wheel chair at every polling station will be assured at every Polling Station. Beside this, every polling station will have COVID-19 material including Gloves, Sanitizer, Soap and Mask, while, Dustbin and Colour bags will be placed for disposal of COVID waste material. He said that food and refreshments will be provided to all the polling staff.Dr Raju also urged electors coming at polling stations to adhere COVID-19 protocols including wearing masks and maintaining social distanceHe further informed that 444721 people of 80 years above age, 138116 PwD voters and 162 COVID-19 patients have been offered Form 12D for postal ballot facility.The CEO said that 348836 electors of 18-19 years age group would exercise their right of franchise this time and all District Administrations are taking adequate steps to motivate first time voters. He said that there are 509405 voters who are above the age of 80 voters, 109624 are service voters and 158341 are Persons with Disability (PwD) voters, while 1608 are NRI voters. He said that Welcome Kits have been issued to First Time Voters, while Voter Information Guides have been distributed to sensitise people about their voting rights.
Dr Raju said that as many as 9966 GPS enabled vehicles are being used for election related duties. He said that over 5000 buses are being used to send polling parties to polling stations.Giving the briefing about law and order, Dr Raju said Election has said that Police parties deployed across the state have been conducting thorough search to check the flow of liquor, narcotics and money to ensure free and fair elections.The CEO said that all DCs, CPs and SSPs have been keeping strict vigil to check the incidents of distribution of liquor, narcotics and money for inducing the voters and raids would be conducted immediately on receiving information or complaints.He said that since the Model Code of Conduct came into force, various enforcement teams have seized valuables worth Rs 500.70 crores till February 18, 2022. He said that the Punjab Excise surveillance teams have seized 58.18 lakh litres of liquor worth Rs 35.43 crore. Similarly, the enforcement wings have also recovered psychotropic substances amounting to Rs 368.60 crores besides confiscating unaccounted cash of Rs 32.52 crore, he added.
Dr Raju said that as many as 3467 FIRs have been registered in the state from January 9, 2022 to February 18, 2022. He said of total 3467 FIRs, 93 are related to IPC, 22 under RP Act, 203 of Property Defacement, 40 COVID-19 related, 902 are related with NDPS, 2109 of Excise, 80 regarding Arms and 18 are others.He said that as many as 17 notices have been issued for causing noise pollution since the model code of conduct came into force. The CEO informed that they have received a total of 16637 complaints on cVigil app till February 19, 2022 since Model Code of Conduct came into the force, of which, 12194 complaints have been resolved in less than 100 minutes. Our teams have handled these complaints in an average handling time of 45 minutes 60 seconds and accuracy rates in 94 percent, he added. Apart from this, Dr Raju said that 619 complaints were received from ECI, of which 565 have been disposed-off, while 54 are under process. Similarly, 507 complaints have been received on National Grievances Redressal Portal (NGRS) of which 467 were disposed-off, while, 40 are under process, he added.He said that 2805 complaints received through call centre of which 2616 have been resolved, while, one was defaulted and 189 are under process. Similarly, 2259 complaints have been received through other sources of which 2238 were resolved, while 21 are under process.
Dr Raju also informed that Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) regarding last 48 hours come into force from 6pm, February 18, 2022. He also informed that in view of Polls, the Punjab state has been declared a dry day on dates from 6pm on February 18, 2022 till conclusion of polls on February 20, 2022 and there will be complete ban on sale of liquor during this period. He also informed that liquor vendors falling in the radius of 3KMs in the neighbouring states including J&K, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Union Territory Chandigarh have also been declared dry day during this period.He said that there will be ban on unlawful assemblies and prohibition on holding of public meetings during the silence period, applicable for the areas/constituencies bound for polls.Meanwhile, as per the instructions of the Election Commission of India (ECI), the Punjab Government has announced a holiday on February 20, 2022 in view of the Assembly election in Punjab to facilitate the voters to exercise their franchise to vote. As per the provisions of Section 135B of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the employees of Industrial Establishments, Commercial Establishments, Shops and Establishments will have a paid holiday on the date of polling in Punjab on February 20, 2022.
As per provisions of Manual on Model Code of Conduct, 8.3 Telecast of Election Matters During the Last 48 Hours
8.3.1 Previously, Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act prohibited only the convening/holding or attending, joining or addressing any public meeting/procession in connection with an election during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of poll for any election in the polling area concerned. However, the scope, extent and dimension of the prohibition contained in the Section were expanded with amendment in the said Section in 1996 when vide Sub-section (1)(b), prohibition was made applicable to display of any election matter by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus during the prohibited period of 48 hours.