Achal Kumar Joti, India's Chief Election Commissioner, on 23 October rejected the opposition's charge that the country's top election body is working under the pressure of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
In an exclusive interview to ANI, Joti said the Election Commission does not meddle in the poll campaign, and asserted that no special preference is being given to any political party.
"We have given equal opportunities to all political parties. We have not directed any party to hold or not to hold their rallies in the state. We are not meddling in their campaigns. Yesterday, the Prime Minister went to Gujarat. Today, Rahul Gandhi will go. We are not giving any special preference to any political party," said Joti.
Asked as to why the commission is silent on Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing schemes during his rallies in poll-bound state, Joti said political parties make poll promises during the campaigns and Election Commission is not acting till the model code of conduct comes in place.
"No I am not under any sort of pressure. The opposition can only question us if we stop them from campaigning. The opportunities are equal for all. All parties make poll promises, even the opposition parties are promising lot of things we are not stopping anybody" he said.
Joti also said the Election Commission has commenced discussions with the Home Ministry with regard to security and administrative staff deployment for the polls in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.
"We have started our dialogue with the Ministry of Home Affairs about deployment of Central police forces. We will be preparing a data base for the staff, as more that 2.5 lakh government employees will be required for election duties as the total number of polling stations is 50,128. Facilities like water, sanitation have to be arranged. The biggest task is to install VVPATs in all polling stations in addition to EVMs. Every voter will be able to see his or her votes. This is the first time that we will using such huge numbers of VVPATS," he said.