Hyderabad: The Election Commission of India on Saturday refused to be drawn into a controversy over allegations levelled by the Samajwadi Party that the poll watchdog was "biased" towards the BJP.
"The Commission doesn`t get into individual allegations. We can`t get into a public debate. These are allegations made from time to time. We don`t get drawn into such controversy," Chief Election Commissioner, V S Sampath said here this evening, reacting to the SP`s allegations that the ECI was biased towards the BJP.
Responding to a query on SP leader and Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan`s threat to move the Supreme Court against the ECI order banning him from campaigning, the CEC noted that the Commission would not get into individual allegations.
Asked if the ECI would provide "relief" to Azam Khan, similar to the one given to BJP leader Amit Shah, Sampath remarked, "It is for him (Khan) to decide whether he wants relief or not."
The CEC, along with election commissioners Hari Shankar Brahma and Nasim Zaidi and other officials of the Commission, was here today to review the preparedness of the administration for conduct of elections to Lok Sabha and the state Assembly on April 30 and May 7.
"We have reviewed the preparedness for the polls. We met representatives of recognised political parties, who offered good and positive suggestions. They also offered full support to the ECI in election management," Sampath said.
Subsequently, the CEC and ECs held a review with Collectors and Superintendents of Police of all districts and top police officials.
This was followed by a meeting with Chief Secretary Prasanna Kumar Mohanty, Director General of Police B Prasada Rao, Principal Secretary (Home) T P Das and other officials.
Of the total 70,171 polling stations across the state, 25,319 have been classified as "critical and hyper critical".
"Special measures will be put in place for security in all these critical and hyper critical polling stations. District Collectors and Superintendents of Police have been asked to ensure there is no intimidation of voters by any means," Sampath said.
Noting that Andhra Pradesh was known for "expenditure sensitivity", the CEC said 101 constituencies have been identified as expenditure sensitive and officials have been asked to "tighten vigilance" in these places.
"We have also asked the Collectors to strengthen the complaints cell at the district level to receive information from public about distribution of money and other inducements to voters.
"We have deployed 85 expenditure observers and 126 assistant expenditure observers besides 1,104 flying squads and 1,060 static surveillance teams to keep a watch on monetary issues," he added.
"Rs 105 crore in cash has been seized so far during checks across the state. This is 46 per cent of the total cash seized across the country," the CEC said.
Sampath said voters would also be liable for prosecution under section 171 B of Indian Penal Code if they accept "bribe for voting".
This provision in law entailed jail term of one year.