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Ban on wall writing is stifling democracy, parties tell EC

Wednesday 29 March 2006

Special Correspondent

Complain of gross violations of model code of conduct by ruling party

CHENNAI : Representatives of most political parties have complained to the Election Commission about the ban on writing on walls and said that this amounted to stifling democracy.

Functionaries of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, who met Chief Election Commissioner B.B. Tandon and Election Commissioners, Navin Chawla and N. Gopalaswamy, requested the Commission to take a lenient view of the painting of names and symbols on the walls of private residences. They said the parties invariably took permission before they did so.

The CPI (M) also pointed out that digital printing of candidates’ names and symbols was expensive and wanted the Commission to allow wall writings - once permission was taken from the owner of the property.

Complain of violation

The main Opposition parties complained about "gross violations of the model code of conduct indulged in by the ruling party." DMK representatives, T.K.S.Elangovan and K.Ponmudi, told the Commission at the Raj Bhavan here that the ruling party was still distributing cycles and sanctioning electricity connections to huts. Many other forms of relief were also being distributed, in blatant disregard to the EC directives. They alleged that most officials in decision-making positions were carrying out all orders of the ruling party without even checking with the Commission or following the model code. The distribution of list of AIADMK candidates was done by government servants - a Public Relations Officer of the DIPR - violating the code, they charged.

G. Ramakrishnan (CPI-M) wanted the Commission to make it clear the documents that could be accepted as proof of identity. He said that there were many "bogus" community certificates and employer identity cards doing the rounds. Hence, identity cards from private enterprises and community certificates should not be accepted, he said.

The party felt that a meeting of all political parties could be convened to discuss the issue and arrive at a list of acceptable identity cards. The CPI (M) also wanted action against officials responsible for violating the model code.

The TNCC wanted the EC to shift top government officials, including the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the CPI also complained of misuse of official machinery by the ruling party.

Party representatives said they were told by the Election Commissioners that painting on walls was prohibited under a State law.

CEC meets Election Officers

Later in the afternoon, the Commission met District Election Officers and sought their views on various issues. The officials also reviewed the election preparations with the DEOs and police officers. Some of the district officials said the Commissioners delivered a clear message asking them to be "neutral and fair." The Commission had the powers to deal with those who were found wanting in this regard.

Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president M.Krishnasswamy has urged the Election Commission to take action against the State Government for its "blatant violation" of the model code of conduct.

In a statement here on Tuesday, Mr.Krishnasswamy said even after the EC making it clear that the code of conduct should not be violated there were reports that the State Government was making arrangements to distribute free bicycles to school students in the State. He wanted the Commission to intervene and stop the violation by the government.

See online : The Hindu

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