Poll panel to brainstorm on key issues

In the times of social media and phased elections, how can campaign silence be maintained during the last 48 hours before the elections? The Election Commission will be debating this and seven other issues, including limiting of expenditure and increasing participation of women, at a multi-party meeting on Monday. All seven registered national political parties and 51 State political parties have been invited. The law prohibits canvassing during the last 48 hours before the elections. This is meant to create an environment of neutrality and “silence” for the voter to exercise his franchise through reasoned reflection rather than be swayed by last-minute appeals by parties and candidates. The agenda notes, circulated to all political parties and accessed by The Hindu , say the Commission has sought suggestions on how to “address the issue of online canvassing to promote or prejudice the electoral prospects of a party/candidate on social media during the last 48 hours.” The Opposition parties, especially the Congress, have been consistently asking this question in view of the BJP’s extensive campaigning on the ground and on social media ahead of each election. Adding print media The Commission has asked the parties if the print media should also be brought within the ambit of Section 126(1)(b) (which lists mediums in which display of election matter is prohibited and includes television, cinematograph or similar apparatus) of the Representation of the People Act. Seeking to raise a heated debate, the Commission has asked political parties on whether there should be a ceiling on party election expenditure. The present election laws only provide a limit on a candidate’s expenditure. The commission has also written to the Law Ministry exploring this question.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/poll-panel-to-brainstorm-on-key-issues/article24775805.ece

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