EC says no to Vajpayee's photo on PDS carrybags

EC says no to Vajpayee's photo on PDS carrybags

The Election Commission (EC) Sunday stopped the BJP government in Himachal Pradesh from distributing free PDS bags carrying photographs of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

"Henceforth, no bags will be issued to the consumers of public distribution system (PDS) with a picture of any political leader, of whatever stature he/she is," Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath told reporters here.

Sampath was here with other EC officials to review election preparedness ahead of the Nov 4 assembly polls in the state.

Replying to a question on bags with Vajpayee's photos being distributed to PDS beneficiaries, Sampath said there would not be any distribution of such bags from Sunday.

He said the EC acted in this regard on the basis of a complaint.

The state government, with over 16-lakh ration card holders, launched a scheme Aug 15 under which a free cloth carrybag was to be provided to every ration card holder in a month for procuring goods.

A bag prominently carries the photo of BJP veteran Vajpayee.

Sampath said the EC had received a number of other election-related complaints from parties.

"We have also received a complaint that Doordarshan has not been working in an impartial manner. We will take up the matter with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting," he said.

On a complaint of indiscriminate re-employment and extension granted to certain government officials, Sampath said: "We'll look into it. Those who are sitting on certain sensitive posts and may try to influence the election process, appropriate action will be taken against them."

"The commission will also look into other complaints against officers with doubtful integrity posted in the districts," he said.

The EC has also received a complaint over a massive recruitment drive by the Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla.

On paid news, Sampath said a three-tier system has been put into place.

Satisfied with the election preparedness, he said the state has  100 percent photo electoral rolls and equal percentage of electoral photo identity cards.

"With the initiative of the commission, 97 percent voters have been registered while the number of newly enrolled voters in the 18 to 19 age group has gone above 80 percent," he said.

Himachal Pradesh will elect a new 68-member assembly Nov 4. The votes will be counted Dec 20.

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