The Election Commission (EC) will hold its first meeting with central observers, including those who will keep a check on black money and illegal inducements, on Thursday as part of preparations for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. Officials said the full EC, comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners.Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra, apart from other senior officials of the poll body, will "brief the central observers about their roles and responsibilities while being on election duty".
The meeting is the first since election dates were declared by the EC on March 10. The officials said the EC, till now, has earmarked deploying over 800 expenditure monitoring observers for the multi-phase polls that begin on April 11.
The observers are drawn from various central services like the Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax and Customs and Excise), the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service (IPS), apart from others, and they are considered to be on 'EC duty' till the elections process ends. The CEC, ECs and other EC brass will talk to the observers and tell them about the process, code of conduct, rules, laws and other subjects that they will encounter during the polls for over two months time now, the officials said.
The EC's mechanism to curb black money and illegal inducements like liquor and drugs and the teams deployed to check these will be specifically shared with the expenditure monitoring observers during the day-long meeting, they said. A question and answer session at the end of the conference will allow the observers to clarify their doubts and queries on these issues and subjects, said the officials.
While there have been interactions between the two sides in the past in anticipation of the polls, the Thursday meeting is the first since the poll process began formally and there could be a next such meeting on March 26, they said. The EC had declared the dates and processes for elections to the 17th Lok Sabha on March 10.
The elections will begin on April 11 and polling would be held over seven phases through May 19, followed by counting of votes on May 23. Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha election.
(With inputs from agencies.)