PANAJI: The state Election Commission office is receiving several hoax calls from public about freebies being distributed by candidates, said N S Navti, additional chief electoral officer on Tuesday.
He said that calls have come in of sarees and money being distributed by candidates ahead of the polls in February 4. However, all have turned out to be hoax after election personnel visiting the sites. Calls were received from Pernem, Mapusa, Panaji, Cumbharjua and Calangute localities.
“So far we have not been able to find any single case of freebies or gifts being distributed,” said Navti adding, “besides false complaints of freebies, no other poll-related complaints have been received by the office.”
“The 40 flying squad vehicles fitted with GPS system respond to complaints immediately,” said Navti. He explained that caller’s names and addresses have been noted and they are informed of the findings within 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission announced new guidelines on election code of conduct. The first is against attempts to influence voters on religious grounds. It says that if any religious outfit campaigns on behalf of a candidate the expenditure incurred by it will be included in the candidate’s expenditure. Videographers will be present in every function to check that the religious outfit is not seeking votes on religious grounds.
The new guideline has nothing to do with the church priests counseling voters, Navti clarified. He said that churches are free to preach “ethical voting”.
The Election Commission has also changed the rule on canvassing in educational institutions. Previously campaigning in education institutions was disallowed but now it is permitted with permission from the management of the institution.
The third guideline is with regard to star campaigners. It says that star campaigners will have to leave the state as soon as they finish campaigning. They cannot extend their stay in the state for unlimited period or more than stipulated days.
Political parties have to submit the names of the star campaigners in advance and the number of days of their stay. As of now, no party in Goa has given the names of star campaigners, said Navti. He said that names are expected after the submission of nomination papers.
Recently, the Supreme Court had ruled that votes cannot be sought on the basis of caste, community, religion or language and the latest EC guideline is a follow-up on the verdict.