20 Jan 2012: Citizens’ candidates and Independents foraying into electoral politics for the first time should watch out. The State Election Commission’s key circulars — available in Marathi only – have hidden traps for first-timers. As the dates for filing nomination papers for the BMC elections are only four days away, candidates should read these guidelines very carefully!
Things to watch out for:
1. Page 2 of the CIRCULAR DATED 30 JULY 2011 (http://tinyurl.com/MCGM-Election-Circ-1) mandates that every candidate shall open an independent bank account, and all election-related expenses must be incurred from this account only. The complete details of this account must be given to officials monitoring the elections. Many candidates – and especially women – may be taken by surprise when they are filing their nomination forms, or maybe even during scrutiny of nominations. That is when they may suddenly realize the need for a fresh and exclusive bank account, and then rush around trying to complete the bank’s formalities. If this happens at the eleventh hour, God help them!
2. Point 8 of the 24-PAGE CIRCULAR DATED 29 DEC 2011 (http://tinyurl.com/BMC-Elections-Dos-Donts) states, “After filing nominations, all expenses until the date of counting of votes must be as per the limits stipulated by Election Commission (i.e. Rs 5 lakhs). Details of expenses must be given to the election authorities before 2 pm daily. Also, after the elections, the total expenses during the election period (i.e. filing of nominations till counting date) must be given.” Is every independent candidate aware of this daily accounting duty?
3. Point 15 of this circular says that publicity material on electronic media needs to be given prior clearance by MCGM or the District Collector. Will TV journalists seek clearance for news about candidates? No. So this point adversely affects those who advertise on electronic media, and favours those who use the paid-news route to prachaar. This is an area for activists and journalists to debate and hopefully do something about.
4. Point 19 has a positive list and a negative list for videography – i.e. what is allowed and what is not allowed. The positive list encourages candidates to capture various wrongdoings (i.e. breach of election code of conduct and budget limits) by rivals, and to use the footage to blow the whistle! This method may be used to get winners dethroned after the elections. It may also be used by journalists. Candidates beware!
5. Scrutiny of nomination papers (which will happen on 1 Feb) is full of pitfalls. We are advised to have 2-3 alternative sets of nomination papers ready, with different sets of people as proposers and seconders from your electoral ward / constituency. Also, prepare your assets declaration affidavit after consulting your accountant and maybe also lawyer. Otherwise, there may be occasions for eleventh-hour panic!
More useful links & circulars:
Hopefully, studying this will help independents / citizens’ candidates avoid last-minute blunders, and to give better competition to political parties and other seasoned khilaadis.
All the Best!
Posted in Activism, Governance & Administration, Our Future, RTI Act 2005, Right to Information.
– January 20, 2012