Treat state poll panels on par with ECI: Maharashtra Governor

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Mumbai, Oct 25 (IANS) Highlighting the significant roles by state election Commissions (SECs), Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao on Thursday said they should be treated on par with the Election Commission of India (ECI) by providing them with funds, functions and functioneries.

He said SECs play a major role in strengthening democracy at the grassroots levels by conducting elections to local self-governments.

Rao was addressing the first two-day international conference of election commissioners & poll conducting authorities, organized by Maharashtra SEC.

Rao said the population of Maharashtra (around 12 crore) alone was greater than the combined populations of Germany, Australia and New Zealand.

“The task of the Maharashtra SEC is mammoth considering the fact that it returns 250,000 local representatives every year from approximately 28,000 local self-governments in the state,” Rao said.

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Referring to the issue of criminals entering the political fray, the governor said, “There should be broad-based consensus” among political parties that such persons with criminal antecedents are denied party tickets.

Stating that India is emerging as a youthful nation, Rao suggested starting ‘democracy clubs’ at school and college levels to engage students in democracy and the election processes.

He asked the Maharashtra State Election Commissioner J.S. Saharia to create a digital platform to share experiences and success stories of successful conduct of elections to local state bodies.

Present at the inauguration were Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde, leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and SEC Secretary Shekhar Channe.

The conference is being attended by top election authorities from UK, Sweden, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, besides election authorities from the EC and SECs in the country, leading NGOs and other stakeholders.

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