EC to launch new norms to fill poll affidavits

The EC is planning to introduce new and stringent norms for filing affidavits of personal assets and expenditure for candidates and political parties in the assembly polls in TN, WB and other states next year.

New Delhi: The Election Commission is
planning to introduce new and stringent norms for filing
affidavits of personal assets and expenditure for candidates
and political parties in the assembly polls in Tamil Nadu,
West Bengal and other states next year.

The EC -- which has recently activated an election
expenditure monitoring cell to curb the use of illegal money
in polls with a senior Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer at
the helm -- is mulling changes and new formatted affidavits
after its experience in the recently concluded polls in Bihar.

The EC, according to sources, has also decided to involve
the manpower and machinery of Income Tax department`s
investigation wing in all the upcoming polls as done during
the Bihar polls after it found the maiden initiative to be
very beneficial.

The EC, in consultation with the Central Board of Direct
Taxes (CBDT), will introduce new and stringent measures in the
new mandated "shadow expenditure registers" for candidates and
political parties and new fields related to investments and
others will be introduced for candidates to file details on
their assets and liabilities in the affidavit, sources said.

The measures will be notified before the April-May polls
of next year in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and
Puducherry, they said.

The proposed measures also include establishment of more
Income Tax Air Intelligence Units (AIUs) at airports which do
not have these units. This is essential as huge cash travels
via the air route during polls, sources said.

The EC just before Bihar polls had notified that
candidates will be monitored with a separate "shadow"
expenditure register and will have to open an exclusive
election bank account under the new guidelines to check flow
of illegal money at the hustings.

The Commission has also decided to run 24x7 control
rooms at its headquarters with similar ones working in each
district of the state where elections will be held.

The poll panel will also field surveillance teams and
flying squads in each police station area of the
constituencies which will have the power to search and seize
illegal and suspicious cash.

The officials, drawn from tax and revenue departments,
will keep vigil over expenditures made by a candidate
beginning from the filing of nomination till the declaration
of the result.

The new guidelines also envisage arrangements for a
`video surveillance and viewing team` for each candidate,
comprising an officer and a clerk, to watch, tabulate and
prepare report of expenditure after gleaning through the video
footage every day.

The video surveillance team will consist of a camera
person who will record the number of vehicles, tents,
furniture, dais, rostrums, barricades, posters, hoardings put
up by the candidate.

In order to check illegal spending through paid news, a
team headed by Deputy District Education Officer (DEO) and
district Public Relations Officer (PRO) and their staff will
monitor both print and electronic media and the local cable
channels and will submit daily reports to the accounting team
which will have officials from the Income Tax department,
Central Excise and Customs and Audit and Accounts.

The Commission will also activate a call centre and
complaint monitoring system at the district level where
callers can register any information about illegal expenses by
a candidate or a political party and all such calls will be