New Delhi: The Election Commission on Saturday flagged the issue of "hate speeches" and plunging standards of political discourse during campaigning with the parties, in the backdrop of personal attacks by leaders in the recent Assembly polls.
At the closed-door meeting, the political parties agreed that the issue had to be addressed. But most of the six national parties and the 49 regional parties opposed the suggestion of the poll panel to hike security deposit for contesting candidates and seeking a 'no dues' certificate from parties operating from government accommodations.
At present, a candidate has to deposit a security of Rs 10,000 for assembly polls and Rs 25,000 for Lok Sabha polls which is forfeited in case the contestant gets less that one-sixth of the votes polled.
There were also divergent views on the use of 'totaliser', a machine with mixes votes from various polling stations and which EC feels would further protect voters' identity during counting of votes.
At the closed-door meeting, the Commission also took up the issue of 'indirect campaigning' in areas which go to polls in a multi-phased election.
"This (hate speech) is one of the issue that we had flagged for the ongoing assembly polls in five states.
"All political parties have supported and have suggested and have committed that they will ensure that the upcoming elections are conducted with highest standards and decency and with decorum. The Commission is assured by all these political parties. We have also urged and appealed to them," Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi later told reporters.
The EC had also taken up the issue of "provocative advertisements" in newspapers in an apparent reference to certain BJP ads which appeared in Bihar newspapers during assembly elections there.
On the issue of 'indirect campaigning', EC said there have been instances when election rallies that are being held in areas where campaigning is on are beamed live to areas where voting is underway. There is no technology to jam TV signals in a particular area.
Smaller parties said speeches by 'star campaigners' being beamed live spoil the level playing field. They asked EC to devise a system to ensure that such telecasts are not used by bigger parties to their advantage.