BJP wants longer hours of polling from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Leaders of major political parties in the State on Monday appealed to the Election Commission of India to restore the earlier voting timings between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the wake of hot conditions in summer in the State, particularly in north Karnataka.
Unlike in the previous elections, the commission has decided to hold polling from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the ensuing elections to the State Legislative Assembly scheduled for May 5.
Leaders of the ruling BJP, Opposition parties Congress, Janata Dal (Secular), Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) held discussions with the full Election Commission, including Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath and Election Commissioners H.S. Brahma and S.N.A. Zaidi for nearly two hours.
The CEC gave a patient hearing to each political party and promised to look into their demands. One of the common demands was extending voting timing owing to hot weather.
Higher Education Minister C.T. Ravi and Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister S. Suresh Kumar met Mr. Sampath and other commissioners and requested to them to fix the voting timings between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. “in the wake of extremely hot and burning conditions prevailing in north Karnataka.”
The BJP wanted the EC to have a centralised system of giving permission as it would be difficult for parties to approach respective Deputy Commissioners every time. Having a system in the State capital would address these problems. Besides, the cost of chopper to be used by national leaders and celebrities should not be added to the expenditure of local candidates. Better if it was included to the State party unit, they said.
The former Bangalore Mayor P.R. Ramesh, Nagamangala MLA Suresh Gowda of the Congress, the former Minister and MLC M.C. Nanaiah, the former Ministers P.G.R. Sindhia and MLC Basavaraj Horatti of the Janata Dal (Secular), G.N. Nagaraj of the CPI (M) and Ananta Subbarao of the CPI called upon the commission to extend the hours of polling by one hour.
The Janata Dal (Secular) also demanded ban on opinion polls conducted during run-up to the elections by print and electronic media to ensure free and fair polling. It also demanded appointment of senior IPS officer as Bangalore City Police Commissioner. The newly appointed Police Cmmissioner Raghavendra H Auradkar is a junior to several IPS officers in the State, Mr Horatti told presspersons.
The JD (S) leaders said the EC should direct the Centre not to release any advertisements in print and visual of its achievements till May 5 as it would impact voters.