Meghalaya Times

SHILLONG, Feb 03: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has drawn the ire of NGOs for the non – functioning of its toll-free number – 1950, setup to receive complaints on election-related malpractices and other violation of the model code of conduct in Meghalaya that goes to the polls on February 23.
“The ECI’s toll-free-number ‘1950’ is not working in Meghalaya which is a sorry state of affair especially when the State is bound to for polls,” National Election Watch (NEW) and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) programme officer, Mashqura Fareedi said.

The ECI had launched ‘1950’ to make it easy for people to register their complaints relating to movement of cash and other violation of the model code of conduct during electioneering in the state. However, with less than 20 days to go for polls, the number, Fareedi said, functions only in Shillong and not in other parts of the state, which is sure to defeat the ECI’s objective of conducting a free and fair poll in the state.
She, however, said deputy chief electoral officer B Dhar admitted that the problem exists and has passed instruction to the telecom department to rectify the fault at the earliest.
NEW’s Meghalaya chapter, Meghalaya Election Watch (MEW), was formally launched on Saturday at Raitong Building. It also convened a meeting with various stakeholders, NGOs and civil societies to discuss on the strategies to be adopted to ensure that Meghalaya elections are conducted in a free and fair manner. NEW is a conglomeration of 1200 organizations across the country working on electoral and political reforms.
“We will try all out efforts to ensure that money power is reduced to the maximum during the elections,” Fareedi said adding, “The Meghalaya Election Watch will also put in its effort to create awareness among the masses that selling of votes or accepting bribe for votes will not help in the future but electorate should be wise while exercising their franchise.”
Meanwhile, MEW has also decided to work with the Election department in its fight to track down the use of money power during the upcoming polls.
Also, MEW will come out with a background paper on all the candidates contesting the elections before February 12. “We will be releasing the background of candidates from all leading political parties which include qualification, financial position, assets and criminal cases,” she informed.
Fareedi further informed that MEW have also launched its SMSes campaign to provide the electorate with the information about the candidates from the different constituencies by typing myneta <name of the constituency> and send it to 56070.

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