Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Congress attacked Tuesday the District Collector of Balasore for not abiding by the norms of the Election Commission (EC). The party alleged that webcasting of the polling process in polling booths through CCTV cameras was not done at all.
Speaking on behalf of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC), spokesperson Satya Prakash Nayak said, “The Election Commission of India (ECI) has taken a number of steps to ensure free and fair polls. It had come out with a notification to ensure transparent elections earlier. In its direction, the Chief Electoral Officers of all states were asked to ensure digital surveillance of polling booths, especially the sensitive ones.”
Nayak told reporters that as per the instructions of the ECI at least 10 per cent of the polling stations in a district should be covered with webcasting to ensure fair elections. However, it did not happen in Balasore district.
The party alleged that in Balasore not a single polling booth had webcasting done through CCTV cameras, which is a gross violation of the ECi mandate.
“There are states like Tripura where 100 per cent webcasting has been done and in Balasore the District Collector who is nodal officer failed to implement it,” Nayak pointed out.
“The District Collector cannot go against the mandate of the Election Commission and fail to implement its orders. Unlike Malkangiri, or Kandhamal, Balasore is not a remote area. It has good penetration of mobile and data connection, electricity and other requirements needed to support such a system but despite the availability of all the facilities webcasting was not done,” added Nayak.
According to the norms, the OPCC spokesman said, that the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Odisha, must have allotted funds to the District Collector for the same. “I want to ask the CEO if he is aware that webcasting was not done. If so what disciplinary measures will he take against the District Collector,” Nayak asked.
The OPCC stated that in many other districts of Odisha scattered webcasting was done. However, its complete absence in Balasore raises questions as to whether elections were done in a free and fair manner in the district.