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New Delhi : Election Commission of India (ECI) on March 3, 2021, organised a briefing meeting for Observers to be deployed for the ensuing General Elections to the Legislative Assemblies of Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and West  Bengal for which schedule was  announced on February 26, 2021. More than 1,650 Observers participated at the briefing meeting physically and virtually from more than 120 remote locations also.  Officers from IAS, IPS, IRS, and other Central Services  have been included to be deployed as General, Police, and Expenditure Observers.

Addressing the Observers, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said that Observers are one of the most important torchbearers of Indian democracy. Arora recalled that during his tenure in ECI since September 2017, he has been associated with 14 Elections of state Assemblies and also the 2019 Lok Sabha General Elections wherein Observers played an important role in the conduct of elections.

Taking note of the exemplary work  accomplished by the CEO and DEOs of Bihar despite widespread Covid concerns, Arora said Bihar Assembly elections have literally become a turning point in the history of Indian elections. Even the participation of voters was better than the previous Assembly and Parliamentary elections in Bihar.

CEC Arora said successful conduct of elections is always a combined feat of field officers and ECI where the Observers and Special Observers also play a vital role. He added that, during these elections, Observers will have additional role in randomisation of forces and their deployment. He said the resilience of Indian democracy lies in the fact that the “Common Man” plays a decisive  role in Government formation. The motto of ECI is to ensure empowered, vigilant, well informed, and safe voter.  He reminded the Observers that they should be visible and accessible to the citizens and enable them to vote fearlessly.

The CEC warned the observers that ECI will act swiftly and ruthlessly in case anyone is found to be lax in performing their duties. ECI shall not tolerate any willful lapses, he reiterated. Arora asked the Observers to visit the Polling Booths to check due facilitation to senior citizens, Persons with Disabilities, and women voters to ensure Commission’s commitment  to principle of Inclusive Elections, according to a PIB release.

Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said that in the forthcoming elections, more than 18 crore  voters would be exercising  their right of franchise.  Accounting for social distancing norms,  more than 80,000 polling stations have been added.  He said Observers need to ensure proper direction to Field-level officers so that ECI’s constitutional mandate is scrupulously fulfilled. Chandra emphasised that Observers should play an important role in making these elections totally inducement free.

Addressing the officers, Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar reminded the Observers that their own conduct would be under scrutiny by the people, media, and political entities.  The  Observers need to ensure exceptional conduct so that legitimacy and sanctity of the Election is kept intact at any cost. Kumar said the evidentiary value of Observers’ reports  many a time become the key factor for ECI to base their judgment.

The half-day long briefing sessions had comprehensive briefing by the Secretary General ECI Umesh Sinha on Election Planning, Security Management & SVEEP aspects.