Election candidates must declare offshore assets now

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Kolkata, March 1 (IANS) Candidates in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections will have to declare their offshore moveable assets and liabilities in their affidavit, as per an amendment made by the Election Commission of India (ECI), an official said on Friday.

“To ensure that all moveable assets are reflected in the affidavit given by the candidates, a further category ‘offshore assets’ has been included for details of deposits of all assets and liabilities in foreign countries,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer, West Bengal, Sanjay Basu told reporters.

He said Form 26 has been amended to ask candidates to submit a statement of their income tax (I-T) returns for the last five years while they earlier had to file a statement of their (I-T) returns for just one year.

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Alongside details of spouse and three dependents in the family, a new row has been inserted bearing the title Hindu Undivided Family for PAN details and status of I-T filing.

The office of the Chief Electoral Officer of the state will convene a meeting with all political parties regarding the changes, he said.

Chief Electoral Officer of Bengal, Aariz Aftab said as per the ECI guidelines this year all polling stations will have voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) along with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

The VVPAT will allow the voter to see whether the paper trail displays the same choice that he/she had pressed in the EVM.

Another major change is that both candidates and political parties can spend up to Rs 10,000 in cash. Any expenditure above this has to be made in electronic mode like RTGS or by cheque, draft, etc, he said.

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“As far as donation is concerned, candidates cannot take more than Rs 10,000 in cash. Even in this case, anything above this amount has to be in electronic form,” he said.

The ECI has launched a new GIS-enabled mobile application called ‘cVIGIL’, which creates a fast-track complaint reception and redressal system.

“Using this app any citizen can either take a photograph or make a two minute video if they see any violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) or expenditure and upload it,” he said.

Aftab said no content must be uploaded from phone memory, only live photo or video can be shared. A person can do it anonymously or share personal details and he/she will be updated about the status within 100 minutes, he added.

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–IANS

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