New Delhi: Gujarat has reported as many as 126 confirmed cases of paid news, while Himachal reported 91 such cases in the Assembly elections in the two states which created a record in the voter turnout.
Gujarat recorded the highest turnout of 70.20 per cent, much above the highest-ever voting of 64.39 per cent recorded in 1995. In 2007, Gujarat had recorded a turnout of 59.93 per cent.
Himachal, which went to polls last month, also recorded the highest-ever voting of 74.54 per cent, after accounting for postal ballot, which is marginally higher than the previous high of 74.51 per cent.
"While 444 suspected cases of paid news were reported in Gujarat, notices were sent to 224 of them. In Himachal Pradesh polls, the Commission came across 211 suspected cases of paid news and notices were sent in 190 cases and 91 confirmed cases were reported," Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath told reporters here today.
Gujarat`s Chief Electoral Officer Anita Karwal said the election authority has identified 126 confirmed cases of paid news during the just-concluded polls, with 61 candidates admitting of have paid for such news in electronic and print media.
She said action against the erring candidates is being initiated, which includes adding the paid news expenses in the expenditure of candidates.
The CEC said polling in both the states was peaceful, except for minor incidents, but polling was not affected or suspended anywhere.
Sampath said that there were as many as 5,574 persons of over 100 years in Gujarat, many of whom exercised their franchise.
The CEC said the Commission had made special arrangements for such people to cast their votes and among them was a 119-year-old. In Rajkot, as many as 178 such 100+ people cast their ballot today, officials said.
He said the poll body has made elaborate arrangements for counting which takes place on December 20, with the setting up of counting centres at 39 locations in Himachal and 28 in Gujarat.
Of the total 4.27 crore electorate in the two states, 46 lakh were in Himachal Pradesh and 3.81 crore in Gujarat. The CEC said that a total of Rs 2.28 crore of cash seizures were made during polls in the two states, while 5.75 lakh litres of country liquor and drugs like opium, poppy husk and other drugs, mainly from Himachal, were also seized.
The highest voter turnout in Gujarat was in Narmada district which recorded 82.17 per cent, while Sirmour district in Himachal Pradesh recorded the highest voting of 79.86 per cent.
EC officials in Delhi said all complaints received in this regard had been forwarded to the respective Chief Electoral Officers of the states concerned and they, in turn, had issued notices. The complaints are being taken up by the respective district and state level Media Certification and Monitoring Committees (MCMCs).
In a first harsh action of its kind against paid news, the EC on October 20, 2011, had disqualified Umlesh Yadav, MLA from Bisauli assembly constituency, after finding him guilty of getting news published in his favour during 2007 UP polls by paying hefty amount to media outlets.