THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:“Using places of worship for campaigning will be treated as a violation of the poll code. Religious heads cannot issue calls to vote for members of a particular community or to defeat the nonbelievers,” Kerala State Election Commissioner P Kamal Kutty announced in Thiruvananthapuram on September 14.
He was responding to a query on the possibility of reading out of pastoral letters in churches.
The model code of conduct barring government from making any announcements on policy shifts and welfare measures came into force in Kerala with the State Election Commission (SEC) announcing civic polls on September 14, Tuesday.
The general elections to 1,208 local self-government institutions under the three-tier system in the State will be held in two phases on October 23 and October 25, Kamal Kutty said.
Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta Kasargod, Kannur, Wayanad and Kozhikode districts will go to the polls on October 23 and Alappuzha, Idukki, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram on October 25.
Filing of nominations begins September 27 once the commission issues the election notification and it will be open till October 4. They will be scrutinized on October 5 and the last date for withdrawing the nominations is October 7.
Polling will be from 7 am to 5 pm. Counting and result announcement are scheduled for October 27. The newly-elected officials will be sworn in on November 1, the state formation day.
There are 978 grama panchayats (village councils), 152 block panchayats, 14 district panchayats, 60 municipalities and five corporations in the State, vast majority of them held by the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) .
The commissioner said 8,000 electronic voting machines will be used in the city corporations and municipalities while the villagers will cast their vote using the traditional ballot paper. Some 225,000 government employees would be deployed for the elections that would cost the exchequer Rs 650 million.
Majority of the councils will see women at the helms after the elections, the first being held after reserving half the seats for them — with the 605 out of 1,208 institutions reserved for them to head.
A meeting of recognized political parties will be held today to discuss issues related to the polls and the model code of conduct. The code would, for the first time, include a provision that any campaigning by state, central and local government employees directly or indirectly would be considered a violation of the code.
News sent by: Liju Cherian