Poll candidates now will have to open election bank account

The Commission has set up for the first time an Election Expenditure Monitoring (EEM) cell headed by a senior Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax) officer and support staff.
The new guidelines for expenditure in elections will come into force with the Bihar Assembly polls scheduled in late October and the cell in the Commission headquarters will operate 24x7 with its control rooms working in each district of the state where elections are being held.

The EC will also field surveillance teams and flying squads in each police station area of the constituencies which will have the power to search and seize illegal and suspicious cash.

"If unexplained cash is found in possession of any person, it will be immediately seized. The flying squads will also watch distribution of cash, liquor or any other bribes to the voters," sources said.

The sleuths in the teams, drawn from tax and revenue departments, will keep vigil over expenditures made by a candidate beginning from the filing of nomination till the declaration of the result.

The candidates will also have to open an exclusive bank account and the monitoring teams will maintain a "shadow" expenditure register in the same format as maintained by the candidate, they said.

The new guidelines also envisage arrangements for a 'video surveillance and viewing team' for each candidate, comprising an officer and a clerk, to watch, tabulate and prepare report of expenditure after gleaning through the video footage every day.
The video surveillance team will consist of a cameraperson who will record the number of vehicles, tents, furniture, dais, rostrums, barricades, posters, hoardings put up by the candidate.

In order to check illegal spending through paid news, a team headed by Deputy District Education Officer (DEO) and district Public Relations Officer (PRO) and their staff will monitor both print and electronic media and the local cable channels and will submit daily reports to the accounting team which will have officials from the Income Tax department, Central Excise and Customs and Audit and Accounts.

The Commission, in a maiden initiative, will also activate a call centre and complaint monitoring system at the district level where callers can register any information about illegal expenses by a candidate or a political party and all such calls will be recorded.
Every candidate will be exclusively covered by an Expenditure Micro Observer and he or she will liaise with the DEO regarding every monetary expenditure and other movements of the candidate.

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