The Election Commission of India (ECI) has said that it is keeping a watch on developments in the country after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack and the air strike carried out by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on terror camps in Pakistan's Balakot on Tuesday.
Responding on whether Tuesday's air strike and further developments will affect the schedule of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Election Commissioner of India Ashok Lavasa said that they are being "constitutionally bound to perform its duties".
"As far as the development is concerned, the ECI does keep a watch on all developments that take place and we are duty-bound to carry out our mandate which has been given by the Constitution," Lavasa said while addressing media in Mumbai after a two-day visit to Maharashtra to review the preparedness of the state ahead of the forthcoming elections.
"We did a two-day review in Maharashtra about the poll preparedness. We had a meeting with all the political parties. We had a meeting with the chief electoral officer and police nodal officers. We had a meeting with nodal officers of the agencies who conduct the election like IT dept, narcotics dept, state excise dept, railway, banks all attended the meeting."
Talking about the issue of duplicate voters in Maharashtra, Lavasa said, "A party has raised the issue of duplicate voters in the state. We are looking into the matter and will take proper action and keep the said political party in the loop. We will resolve the issue in 15 days."
Maharashtra has 95,473 polling stations at 49,284 polling locations. He added that for the first time in Maharashtra, all EVMs will be attached to VVPATs.
The ECI also urged first-time voters to register themselves as soon as possible as the general elections are inching closer.
"Some voters who are unable get themselves enrolled due to lack of proof of residence, their case should be considered while the new voters should be registered as soon as possible. In sensitive areas, there should be proper police deployment," he said.
On being asked if the ECI was seriously thinking about imposing a ban on political advertisements or paid news in print media, he said, "Political parties suggested that 48 hours silence period before the polling should be extended to print media also. They (political parties) complained about paid news in print media. Political advertisements on social media should be checked."
Lavasa also clarified that reports that Whatsapp campaign suggesting that online voting will be made available for Non-Residents Indians (NRIs) is a "fake" and the ECI has filed a complaint to initiate a probe into the matter.