After meeting with top officials, EC decides no delay in Okhla polls

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The EC had earlier met with senior officers and discussed the Delhi CEO’s input on the situation in Okhla.

The Election Commission (EC) held a special meeting with its senior officers and top officials of the Delhi administration —including the chief secretary, police commissioner, home secretary and finance secretary — Friday, following which it ruled out postponing polls in the Okhla seat.

The review meeting on poll preparedness took place a day after a youth fired at a Jamia student during an anti-CAA protest. The protest site falls under the Okhla Assembly seat.

At the meeting, the commission reviewed the law and order situation, among other aspects, during which the chief electoral officer, chief secretary and police commissioner assured Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and election commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra that the poll machinery is prepared to hold peaceful and fair elections in the capital.

“This meeting may have happened a day after the firing incident, but it wasn’t about any specific protest. This was our second review meeting in which all aspects of law and order were discussed,” said a senior EC officer, who did not wish to be named.

The EC had earlier met with senior officers and discussed the Delhi CEO’s input on the situation in Okhla. “Our officers (EC and state CEO office) stated that there is no reason to delay polls in Okhla. This was validated by top officers in the meeting that followed,” said the officer.

The commission also told the police commissioner, special commissioners of police and representative of central forces that they must use their powers “legally, timely and judiciously” to ensure peaceful, free and fair elections and the Model Code of Conduct should not be used as an excuse for slow action or inaction. Incidentally, police has been criticised for its handling of situations near university campuses, including Thursday’s shooting.

After the meeting, the commission appointed B Murli Kumar (ex-IRS officer of 1983 batch) as Special Expenditure Observer and Mrinal Kanti Das (IPS 1977 Retd) as Special Police Observer for Delhi elections.

Das, who retired as Director General of Manipur Police, was also deputed earlier as Special Police Observer for Tripura and Mizoram during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It was on Kumar’s recommendation that the EC countermanded LS polls for the Vellore seat for abuse of money power.

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