Cash for votes: Election Commission has asked its special observers to prevent political parties and their candidates from bribing voters. In a day long briefing with 1800 special observers in New Delhi, the commission also asked them to strictly enforce the election expenditure limit set by the commission.
The apex poll panel also asked them to be vigilant as political parties are using new and innovative ways to offer gratification to voters.
Election commission has divided these 1,800 observers in three categories, general observers, police observers and expenditure observers to monitor three distinct areas.
Briefing the observers, election commissioner Sushil Chandra said the role of expenditure observers was very crucial as the methods of paying gratification to voters have become very innovative.
It has been become a big challenge for the election commission to prevent political parties and candidates from bribing voters as new and innovative methods for bribing voters have emerged including digital payments and through cash wallets.
Indian elections have historically faced problems of payment of bribe and other illegal inducements to influence the voters. Sometimes, even top politicians have been caught on camera offering cash and other doles to voters to buy their votes. However, this time challenge for election commission is to stop payment through digital and other electronic means that are difficult to detect and stop.
The challenge has become even more daunting for the commission as accepting gratification, cash payment or other forms of inducement was not considered unethical by a section of voters.
According to a survey conducted by chief electoral officer of Bihar in 2015, more than 80% respondents did not consider it unethical to accept bribe in lieu of casting their votes.
Election Commission has decided to use technology to counter irregularities in the conduct of elections. It has launched cVigil App for general public to report complaints of irregularities directly to the commission.
These irregularities will be shared with the concerned flying squads and special observers in real time for their strict enforcement.