Notifications for single-phased Punjab and Goa Assembly elections will be issued today, kick-starting the process of filing of nomination papers. The last date of filing nominations is the 18th of January, with scrutiny taking place the next day. Candidates can withdraw their nominations till the 21st. Polling in both the states will be held on February 4th. The counting will take place on 11th March. Punjab has a 117-member Assembly, while Goa has 40 seats.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has once again instructed the Chief Electoral Officers of five poll bound states that photos of political leaders in hoardings, and advertisements should be removed or covered. Those hoardings or advertisements which project achievements of any political party or leader should also be removed.
The Commission, however, said the hoardings which contain general information about family planning and social welfare schemes may be displayed. Earlier, Congress had urged the Election Commission to order the removal of the Prime Minister’s photograph from government posters at public places, including petrol pumps, in the election-bound states.
Also, the poll panel issued an advisory to all political parties calling on them to refrain from making statements based on religion, or face stern action. In a statement, the poll panel called on all political parties and its leaders to “desist from making statements to the effect of creating disharmony between different sections of society on the basis of religion, which disturbs peace and tranquilly of the society which is absolutely essential for free and peaceful conduct of elections.”
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The Commission further warned that it will not remain a “silent spectator” if the provisions of law or the Model Code of Conduct are violated and no one can do it with impunity. “The Commission will take stern actions for any violation under all powers available. All may please note it and issue suitable advisory to all concerned,” the statement read.
The development comes in the wake of the furore created over Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sakshi Maharaj, who received a notice from the Election Commission over his controversial comments that appeared to blame the Muslim community for India’s population growth.