Political parties want Assembly elections before Bihu: CEC



Guwahati: Political parties in Assam want the upcoming Assembly elections in the state to be completed before the Rongali Bihu festival from April 14 but date for the polls is yet to be finalised, Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi on Thursday.

"We met the political parties to know their impression on the elections. All except one political party wanted the election to be completed before the Bihus. One party said the elections could be held after the Bihu with a gap of a week or ten days," Quraishi told reporters here.

Asked when the polls were scheduled in the state and in how many phases, he said, "We have taken the inputs and suggestions from our officers and the political parties and reviewed the arrangements on the law and order."

"There are other states also going to the polls. We will see all of them in totality. After doing our homework, we will decide. Scheduling and spacing elections is a very complex exercise we are working on. As of now we have not decided," the CEC said.

During meeting here yesterday, some political parties expressed concern about the movement of militants both surrendered, he said.

"Some even mentioned about violence by some ministers and MLAs. The parties were also concerned about criminals out on parole because they can do mischief during the elections," the CEC said.

"The political parties also raised the issue of arms seizure and we had discussions with the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police today about the seizure of unlicenced arms," the CEC said.

The illegal unlicenced arms could be seized through smart intelligence gathering and raids, Quraishi said.

On the possibility of pro-talk members of different insurgent outfits being used by any political party during the polls, he said, "We monitor every possible threat to peaceful election. These pro-talk people are confined to specified areas and cannot come outside those areas".

The CEC also said "sensitive booths will be provided with micro observers for polls and expenditure control, extensive videography, photography and also web casting would be done from the polling station so that sitting in Delhi and Guwahati we can know what is happening inside the booth".

"We have emphasised to the police officers that the non-bailable warrants have to be executed as over 14,000 warrants are pending. All of them have to be arrested because if they continue to roam free they may create problems during the polls, Quraishi said.

"The parties also mentioned about citizens being harassed when their cases are referred to the Foreigners Tribunal as once referred to the Tribunal, they are not allowed to vote," he said.

PTI