EC flays parties for irresponsible remarks

SY Quraishi was asked about criticism of the poll authority by political parties in cases of violation of the model code of conduct.

New Delhi: Terming as "irresponsible"
remarks of political parties criticising its orders, the
Election Commission on Wednesday said if they feel heat of its
directive, "it is their problem".

"Anybody making such a statement is making an
irresponsible statement," Chief Election Commission S Y Quraishi told reporters here.

He was asked about criticism of the poll authority by
political parties in cases of violation of the model code of

"We are very fair and even handed. If somebody feels
the heat it is their problem. We are very fair and there is no
doubt about that," he said on the sidelines of the National
Voters` Day (NVD) function here.

The Commission recently faced criticism from Uttar
Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for its decision to cover her
statues and that of the BSP poll symbol `elephant` which were
built at government expense.

The EC was also the target of Punjab Chief Minister
Parkash Singh Badal, who had taken exception to the actions of
Commission officials. Badal had said the Commission officials
should `act with constitutional restraint`.

Interestingly, political leaders were conspicuous by
their absence at the NVD programme of the Election Commission
where the top poll officers urged voters to participate in
elections in large numbers to elect "solid, sincere and hard
working" representatives.

The absence of political leaders was pointed out by
former President A P J Abdul Kalam, who was the chief guest at
the function.

However, Quraishi said the absence of political parties
did not reflect indifference on their part.

Quraishi pointed out that it would have been difficult
for political parties to leave the poll campaign and come for
the programme as elections were only a few days away.

"We do not think there is indifference. They have their
compulsions. We had sent routine invitations and had not
followed up with personal invitations as they would have found
it difficult to express their regret," he said.

Asked about publication of opinion polls, the CEC said
there was no ban on the exercise.

However, he said opinion polls cannot be broadcast or
published 48 hours prior to the end of any phase of elections.

Quraishi also dubbed as "correct and wise" the Commission
decision to cover the statues of BSP poll symbol `elephant`
and that of Mayawati.

He pointed out that in 2004, the Commission had covered
the photographs of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee appearing across national highways as part of the
Golden Quadrilateral project.

Quraishi said conduct peaceful elections, control of
money power and stopping distribution of liquor were among the
top priorities of the Election Commission.


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