EC Aims to Boost Urban Polling in Andhra


The urban areas, including Visakhapatnam, Nellore, Kurnool town, Rajamahendravaram, and Vijayawada, have been identified as exhibiting “urban apathy” towards the electoral process….reports Asian Lite News

Andhra Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Mukesh Kumar Meena has underscored the concerted efforts being made to enhance voter turnout in approximately 20 urban Assembly constituencies where participation has been observed to be lower than the national average of 68 percent. These urban areas, including Visakhapatnam, Nellore, Kurnool town, Rajamahendravaram, and Vijayawada, have been identified as exhibiting what Meena describes as “urban apathy” towards the electoral process.

Despite the state’s overall polling percentage standing at a commendable 79 percent, Meena has emphasized the significance of boosting voter turnout in these urban pockets to bolster the state’s overall voting percentage. To facilitate the upcoming simultaneous Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha polls scheduled for May 13, various preparatory measures have been implemented, including ensuring an adequate supply of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and completing the first level check.

With a mammoth 46,000 polling stations set to be operational during the elections, Meena revealed that a staggering 3.3 lakh employees are required to fulfill the duties associated with poll duty. Each polling station necessitates the presence of six polling officers, including the presiding officer. Although Meena acknowledged a slight gap in the current personnel requirements, he expressed confidence that this shortfall could be addressed through rationalization.

The preliminary preparation plan for deploying security forces across all polling stations has already been finalized, awaiting final approval from the general observer. Furthermore, special observers, comprising retired bureaucrats Ram Mohan Mishra, Deepak Mishra, and Nina Nigam, have been appointed to ensure strict adherence to election guidelines and procedures.

Recognizing the paramount importance of maintaining law and order during the electoral process, Meena estimated a requirement of up to 1.14 lakh police personnel, encompassing CRPF companies and home guards, to effectively manage security concerns. However, with only 50,000 police personnel currently available in the state, Meena highlighted the pressing need for an additional 430 CRPF companies, each comprising 80 to 85 Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel, to bridge the existing gap in security forces.

To address security concerns in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected areas, Meena revealed plans to intensify security measures, with polling stations in these regions slated to be manned by a larger contingent of police personnel to ensure the safety of EVMs, strong rooms, and counting centers.

Additionally, measures to counter electoral malpractices such as paid news and violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) have been robustly pursued. The Election Commission has established a dedicated media cell to continuously monitor and address challenges arising from social media platforms. Seizures of cash, liquor, and other inducements totaling millions have already been effected, with vigilant monitoring continuing through platforms like the cVigil app.

Despite the myriad challenges, Meena assured that comprehensive training for election personnel has been completed. The elections for the 175-member Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh are slated to be held on May 13, with vote counting scheduled for June 4. Throughout this electoral process, the Election Commission remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring a transparent, free, and fair electoral process in Andhra Pradesh.

Owaisi’s AIMIM ties up with Apna Dal (K) in UP

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) announced an alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha elections on Sunday.

Apna Dal (Kamerawadi)’s leader Pallavi Patel and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi led the alliance, which has been named PDM, which means “Pichda, Dalit and Musalman”.

Other parties like Premchand Bind’s Pragatisheel Manav Samaj Party and Rashtriya Uday Party are also included in the alliance.

Recently, the Samajwadi Party called off its ties with Apna Dal (Kameravadi) amid the differences between the alliance partners that had been playing out in public for a long time.

Responding to a media inquiry on Thursday, SP president Akhilesh Yadav said, “We were in alliance with Apna Dal (Kameravadi) in the 2022 Assembly polls but it is not in 2024.”

Rift between the two parties came to the fore when Apna Dal (K) leader and SP MLA Pallavi Patel refused to vote for two SP candidates in the February Rajya Sabha polls, saying that the SP had ignored its own PDA (Pichda, Dalit, Alpasankhyak) formula in its choice of candidates. She eventually claimed she had voted for the only Dalit among the three SP candidates.

The Apna Dal (K) is a faction of the Apna Dal founded by OBC leader Dr Sonelal Patel, who died in a road accident in 2009.

Lok Sabha polls will be held in seven phases beginning April 19.

Uttar Pradesh, which sends the maximum number of MPs, 80, to Parliament, will vote in all seven phases.

Voting for phases one and two will be held on April 19 and April 26. Next, the state will once again poll in phases three and four on May 7 and May 13.

The Uttar Pradesh electorate will also vote in phases five, six and seven on May 20, May 23 and June 1 respectively.

The votes will be counted on June 4. (ANI)

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