With the increase in usage of social media networking sites by politicians and national parties for promotions, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has decided to keep a strict vigil on the political advertisements and messages during the Lok Sabha elections which will be conducted in nine phases beginning April 7.
The ECI will keep tab on the content that a politician or a party uses on the social media. The content will have to be certified by the media certification and monitoring committee (MCMC) of the apex body before it is uploaded on websites.
"For the first time during this election ECI has devised a mechanism to control the use of social media by the candidates of various parties," said, Gujarat chief electoral officer Anita Karwal on Wednesday. "There will be a general surveillance on the use of social media by the political parties and candidates. Any content that a candidate wants to use on the social media will have to be certified by the MCMC before use," she said.
Karwal also announced another important feature of this general election where the state electoral officers will put up the summary of expenditure account of the candidates on their respective websites after scrutinising them periodically.
"From this elections we would be uploading the summary of expenditure of candidates on our website," Karwal said. The state electoral officers will be scrutinising the expenditure account of candidates three times before the elections. Earlier the details were not made public before the elections.
Karwal said that Gujarat will be going full throttle in use of social media for voter education and awareness.
"In Gujarat we will be extensively using social media like Youtube, Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter for voter education and awareness. We have instructed the district returning officers (collectors) to use these tools to motivate people to come out and vote," she explained about the unique initiative take by the Gujarat state electoral officer.
Under directions of the ECI, Karwal and her team has identified parliamentary and assembly constituencies where the voter turnout has been low during previous election. They plan to make concerted effort in these seats to educated voters to participate in elections. "Out of the total parliamentary and assembly constituencies we will be conducting awareness programmes in 10 per cent of the constituencies where the turnout has been low in previous polls. This is to motivate them to participate in democratic process," Karwal said. On maintaining law and order during the election period Karwal said that they would be using various technologies like webcasting, videography of polling booths besides deploying security personnel. She said that around 20-22 per cent out of the over 45,000 polling station in Gujarat have been classified as vulnerable or critical.
In Gujarat there are total of 39.8 million electorates out of which 20.8 million are male and 19 million female.
There will be as many as 45,313 polling station in Gujarat during 2014 general elections compared to 42,500 stations in 2009 LS polls.
Elections for 26 parliamentary constituency and seven assembly constituency in Gujarat will be held on April 30.