Urges Eligible Voters to Come Out in Large Numbers and Exercise their Franchise

Port Blair, April 16: The Returning Officer, ANIPC, Shri Arjun Sharma, IAS has urged the eligible voters of A&N Islands to come out in large numbers and exercise their franchise for a healthy democracy. The ANIPC is going for the Polls in the first phase of Lok Sabha Election-2024 on April, 19, 2024 and polling will be held from 7 am to 6 pm. all the eligible voters have been appealed to participate in the democratic process without fail, the RO said this during a press conference held in the District Office here today.

The RO stated that as the Poll date is nearing, the campaigning, as per the guidelines of the ECI, by the Political Parties and the contesting candidates must stop from 6 pm on April 17, 2024 i.e., 48 hours before the closing of Polling. This is also known as the ‘silence period’ as per the guidelines of the Election Commission of India, the RO said. The use of loudspeakers by the Political Parties and contesting candidates for political activities/purpose is not at all allowed during this period, he said adding that Political Parties and contesting candidates should refrain from using loudspeakers for political purpose.

The RO mentioned that 144 Cr. PC Prohibitory orders have been issued and it will be effective from April 17 from 6 pm onwards. Action deemed fit will be taken against the violators of 144 Cr. PC Prohibitory Orders, the RO cautioned.

Informing about the preparations by the Election Machinery for the smooth conduct of Polls in ANIPC, the RO informed that 3 rounds of training for the Polling Parties have been completed in all the 3 districts. Randomization of Polling Parties has also been completed. On April 18, the Polling Parties with Election Materials will proceed for their respective Polling Station. The EVMs, VVPATs and Polling Kits for the Sub Divisions of outer Islands have already been dispatched and kept in the Strong Rooms which have been sealed as per the guidelines of ECI. All the Polling Parties of South Andaman and the other two Districts will assemble at their Dispatch Centre on April 18, 2024 and will collect the Polling Materials after thoroughly checking it. They will immediately proceed to their respective Polling Booths with proper security for the conduct of Polling on April 19.

The RO disclosed that Election Machinery has identified Critical and Sensitive Polling Stations in ANIPC and these booths will be given extra care and protection by the CAPF, CRPF, Micro Observers and A&N Islands Police Personnel, so that Polling in these Polling Stations are completed in a peaceful manner without any untoward incidents.

The RO informed that as part of the preparations for the Elections-2024 special emphasis has been given for different components. He said, 3 rounds of training have been provided effectively on EVM for the Polling Parties. He said, if any issue crops up with regard to EVMs or VVPATs, the ECIL Engineers who will be moving along with Sector Officers will immediately respond to it and rectify it. Apart from this, the Control Room Number of District Office and RO’s Office has been provided to Election Officials (Sector Officers & Presiding Officers) so that they can immediately convey the issues if any, being faced during the conduct of Polling for its rectification as per the guidelines of the ECI on war footing. He said, this time as per a new initiative, webcasting has been arranged in 206 Polling Stations which comes to 50 percent, out of the total 412 Polling Stations spread over ANIPC. These 206 Polling Stations will be monitored 24X7 live from the Control Room of District Office on Pre-Poll Day, Poll Day and Day After Poll and these also include Isolated, Critical Polling Stations.

The RO also informed that Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) as per the guidelines of the ECI has been arranged in all the Polling Stations which include drinking water facilities, proper shades for the voters in queue, toilet facilities, provision of ramp, pick up and drop for senior citizens and PwDs as per laid down Govt. mechanism. The AMF has been devised in such a way, so as to enable the voters to exercise their franchise in cordial manner and participate in the democratic process in a big way. Special Voter discount in food items has also been made available by the Hotel owners in the Hotels spread over the A&N Islands to increase the voter participation on the Polling Day.

Responding to queries, the RO informed that to facilitate Senior Citizens and PwDs, Postal Ballot was conducted for their benefit so that they can also participate in the democratic process. He said, during the Poll Day, if Senior Citizens or PwDs, who couldn’t cast their votes through Postal Ballot and require any assistance, they can contact the BLOs of their respective Polling Booth and in turn the BLOs will facilitate them for voting by taking up the matter with Election Officials available in the field. He also informed about using the Saksham App brought out by the ECI to register their request for assistance with regard to wheel chairs and pick up & drop for Senior Citizens and PwDs. He said, special queue has been earmarked for the senior citizens and PwD voters to enable them to cast their votes without any hindrance. The RO informed that the Election Commission of India has issued strict standing instructions that no cellular (mobile)/cordless/wireless phone sets, are allowed inside the Polling Stations and also in the 100 meters perimeter of Polling Stations by the voters while exercising their franchise in order to maintain secrecy of voting process. He urged the voters under the Andaman & Nicobar Islands Parliamentary Constituency not to carry any such gadgets with them to the Polling Station to obviate any last minute inconvenience.

Referring to MCC violation, the RO informed that complaints regarding Paid News have been received and Show Cause Notices to the concerned Parties and News Channels have been issued. Warnings have also been issued in some cases, in which, the reply by the violators were not satisfactory, the RO clarified. He further cautioned the News Channels/Youtubers/WhatsApp Group to refrain from publishing paid news which is violation of MCC and reiterated that strict action shall be initiated against anyone found violating the same.