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EC for pledge of ethical voting; appeals to dump the corrupt

Days after Union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar stoked a controversy by his remark on casting “double ballots”, the Election Commission has exhorted the electorate to commit themselves to “ethical voting” in the General Elections.

The latest move by the poll panel comes after it put up posters urging voters to select pro-development candidates and dump the criminals and the corrupts.

The Election Commission’s “pledge” asking people to vote ethically in the coming Lok Sabha elections is in the form of a letter written in Marathi for Maharashtra’s voters and in different regional languages for people from other parts.

The letter asks voters to elect a candidate who will “meet the aspirations of the people and the nation as a whole.”

It asks voters to cast their ballots “without fail, fear or greed, and without keeping caste, religion and creed considerations in mind” and to “inspire and encourage friends and family members” to vote in this fashion.

The letter also states that electing a candidate is not merely a citizen’s right but their responsibility towards the nation.

Of the eight lakh such letters being distributed by the poll panel, around three lakh would reach the electors with voters’ slips in the city and around five lakh in the suburbs.

An official said people would be asked to sign and submit these to ward officers or election officials or at the polling booths.

Help of ward officers and staff at the collector’s offices, residents’ welfare associations and various NGOs is being taken to distribute these letters, sources said.

The commission has already put up posters and banners urging people to vote for candidates who are pro-development and well-educated and also asked voters to beware of those who offer bribes and inducements as such elements would indulge in corruption in the future.

The posters say people should also know about the assets and liabilities of candidates before voting for them.

Addressing a rally of Mathadi workers (head loaders) from western Maharashtra region in Navi Mumbai last week, Pawar had appealed to them to “vote twice by taking advantage of multi-phase polling in Maharashtra by erasing indelible ink applied to their forefingers”.

However, after his remarks caused an uproar, Pawar sought to tone them down, saying they were made “in jest”.

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