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Model code of conduct comes into force ahead of election

Security to be stepped up; 16 critical polling booths identified

A higher number of polling booths, hand gloves for voters to sign on the register and pressing the EVM button and three queues for men, women and senior citizens/persons with disabilities are among the special arrangements for the Assembly election being held under the receding shadow of COVID-19 on April 6.

Chief Electoral Officer Shurbir Singh said at a press conference that according to the timeline set by the Election Commission, the notification will be issued on March 12, the last date for filing of nominations is March 19, scrutiny of papers will be held on March 20 and the last date for withdrawal of candidature is March 22. The counting of votes has been scheduled for May 2.

“The model code of conduct has taken effect,” Mr. Singh added.

There are 10,02,414 electors in the Union Territory. “Continuous update of the electoral rolls is in progress, and it will continue till 10 days before the last date for nomination,” Mr. Singh said.

The elector strength has been restricted to 1,000 voters per booth in view of the pandemic. Accordingly, 607 new booths have been set up, taking the total from 952 to 1,559.

The number of persons accompanying a candidate for filing nominations has been reduced to two from five, vehicles to two from three and the number of volunteers of a candidate undertaking door-to-door campaign restricted to five.

Face mask, sanitiser, thermal scanners, gloves and face shields will be in use and distancing norms will be in place. All polling personnel will be vaccinated.

Additional forces of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been sought to bolster the 10 companies expected to arrive.

The Elections Department has identified 154 vulnerable hamlets, 233 vulnerable booths and 16 critical booths. These will be constantly monitored. An estimated 3,000 policemen will be pressed into service, along with 9,140 government staff members. The police have also been asked to execute non-bailable warrants and impound all arms, except those for bank security.

As Puducherry is a sensitive Union Territory in election expenditure, flying squads and static surveillance and video surveillance teams will track illegal cash flow. The ceiling of expenditure has been raised from ₹20 lakh to ₹22 lakh.

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