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Election Commission's special vigil on poll expenditure in AP

Ahead of the Assembly and General elections, State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Gopal Krishna Dwivedi, fearing flow of cash and liquor to lure the voters, declared Andhra Pradesh an expenditure-sensitive state. Addressing a workshop of the Media Certification Monitoring Committee (MCMC) at the Secretariat in Velagapudi, he said that the EC will have a large number of election observers to monitor the Lok Sabha, Assembly and Legislative Council polls. 
 
Dwivedi also sought an increase in the number of MCMC officials from the existing five to 20, to work effectively. Additionally, he also asked officials to be alert and keep a close watch on the paid news articles in newspapers, news stories on television and the social media handles.
 
The MCMC members, who work under the chairmanship of collectors, are supposed to have knowledge of print, electronic and social media, he said, as they need to identify paid articles. The money spent on such things would be added to the election expenditure of the respective candidate, he added.
 
The CEO made it clear that the candidates spending more than Rs.70 lakh (Lok Sabha), Rs. 28 lakh (Assembly elections) will be disqualified. He added that the guidelines applying to electronic media would also apply to social media, with regard to paid articles. He asked nodal officers and MCMC members to be impartial in discharging their duties and opined that a large contingent of staff was necessary to work round-the-clock and monitor all types of media.
 
Regarding the MLC elections to be held in the seven districts from Srikakulam to Guntur, he said the MCMC members in the state needed to be more active as no ground work has been done so far. Dismissing claims of faulty electronic voting machines (EVMs), the EC officials said that Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) attached to the EVMs, are a fool-proof system for registering votes and said that they have been in vogue for the last three decades. 

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