EC appoints special observers in states; countering false narratives on agenda

The Election Commission on Tuesday appointed special observers for administrative, security and expenditure monitoring purposes in several states to ensure a level playing field during the upcoming elections.
Chief Election commissioners
Chief Election commissioners

New Delhi | The Election Commission on Tuesday appointed special observers for administrative, security and expenditure monitoring purposes in several states to ensure a level playing field during the upcoming elections.

The special observers -- former civil servants with brilliant track record -- have been tasked with overseeing the electoral process with strict vigilance, particularly against the backdrop of challenges posed by the influence of money, muscle and misinformation, the poll panel said.

Special Observers (General and Police) have been deployed in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Bihar where the population is more than seven crore and also in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha where the simultaneous elections to the Assemblies are to be held, the poll authority said.

Special Expenditure Observers have also been deployed in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, it said.

Besides general, expenditure and police observers, the EC had been deploying special observers in poll-going states.

Special observers will station themselves at the state headquarters and if needed, tour the areas where sensitivity is high and necessary coordination is required, the poll panel said.

They can seek requisite inputs from time to time from the observers deployed in the parliamentary constituencies, assembly seats or districts, wherever necessary, without interfering in their work. They are also mandated to seek inputs and coordinate with regional heads and nodal officers of various agencies involved in monitoring activities.

The special observers will have a special focus on border areas and work towards plugging the inflow of inducements and also work on seeking inputs on the redressal of grievances of the public.

Also on their agenda is quick response to counter false narrative and monitoring of the last 72 hours before the poll, to ensure free and fair elections.

While retired IAS Manjit Singh has been deployed as a general special observer in Bihar, former IPS Vivek Dubey has been posted as a police special observer in the state. In Maharashtra, Dharmendra S Gangwar, a retired IAS, has been made general special observer while N K Mishra, a former IPS, is the police special observer.

In Uttar Pradesh, retired IAS officer Ajay V Nayak is the general special observer and Manmohan Singh, a former IPS officer, is the police special observer. Similarly, in Andhra Pradesh, the general special observer is retired IAS officer Ram Mohan Mishra and the police special observer is former IPS Deepak Mishra who was once with the Delhi Police.

Former IAS officer Yogendra Tripathi and retired IPS Rajnikant Mishra have been appointed as a general special observer and police special observer, respectively for Odisha. In West Bengal, the general special observer is former IAS Alok Sinha and the police special observer is retired IPS Anil Kumar Sharma.

The special expenditure observers for the five states are Rajesh Tuteja in Uttar Pradesh, Himalini Kashyap in Odisha, B Murali Kumar in Karnataka, Neena Nigam in Andhra Pradesh and B R Balakrishnan in Tamil Nadu. All are former Indian Revenue Service officers.

Lok Sabha elections are being held in seven phases between April 19 and June 1. The counting of votes will be held on June 4.

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