New Delhi: Election Commission of India Monday organized a Briefing Meeting for Observers to be deployed for the forthcoming Bihar Legislative Assembly Elections as also bye elections across the States. This meeting was uniquely positioned as a blend of virtual and physical gathering with more than 700 general, police and expenditure observers joining virtually from 119 locations across the country and about 40 observers posted in Delhi joining in person.

Speaking to the observers, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora gave a global perspective on the impact of Covid 19 on election schedules around the world and the detailed deliberation and assessments done by ECI before taking the decision to conduct elections in Bihar. He underscored the need to be extra careful as this election will be keenly watched by the world community being the largest election in the world to be held amid the pandemic. He reiterated ECI’s commitment to conduct an election that is free, fair, transparent, ethical and also Covid Safe.

He stated that the strength of a democracy rests in its primary stakeholder- the voter . All efforts must be made to instil confidence in the voter to come to the polling station on election day to cast her/his vote safely and freely. He called upon the observers to assume the role of friend, philosopher and guide to the local election machinery, guide and hand-hold them and help resolve their issues.

He lauded the commitment and dedication of some of the special expenditure observers in the past who made sure that level playing field was made available during election. Such observers, by virtue of their formidable domain knowledge and absolute impartiality, attest to the faith that was reposed in ECI as an institution by the founding fathers of our Constitution.

 Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra emphasised the significance of role of observers. He pointed out that two special expenditure observers have already been appointed by the Commission and if required other such special observers would also be appointed as the election process progresses.

Chandra pointed out that familiarization with laid down instructions specifically the highlights of the broad guidelines issued by the Commission on 21st August, 2020 as also by the CEO Bihar should be strictly adhered to. He advised officers to pro-actively redress complaints and ensure impartially while discharging their duties.

Speaking on the occasion, Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar drew the attention of the officers that as observers they have a statutory duty to perform on behalf of Election Commission of India. He said the officers should always bear in mind they are the actual face of ECI on the ground. He reminded the officers that Bihar Elections needs to be showcased to the world as all attention is focussed on these Elections.He said the observers play an important role in guiding, mentoring and advising the field teams.

Sessions in the half- day long briefing held today for the Delhi based observers, as also for officers attending online from other States and UTs, were addressed by Secretary General, ECI, Umesh Sinha and other DECs.

Giving a panoramic view of election process, Sinha specifically briefed the officers on Election Planning, Security Management, SVEEP and Media aspects. Sr. Dy. Election Commissioner Dharmendra Sharma informed the observers of the training process already conducted for the polling personnel. Dy. Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain spoke to the observers on the EVM VVPAT management system as also the Electoral Roll issues.

DEC Chandra Bhushan Kumar, who is also Bihar State In-charge at ECI, detailed out the legal provision, Model Code of Conduct issues specifically in COVID scenario for Bihar Elections. DEC Ashish Kundra briefed the Observers on the specific IT applications while. Director Expenditure and Director Media too briefed the observers on their specific role in Expenditure monitoring and effective use of Media Certification and Monitoring Committees.

Each of the sessions laid emphasis on the extra dimension of Covid safe election and the broad guidelines issued by the Commission on this subject and the seminal role that Observers would play in ensuring that these guidelines and instructions on various facets are followed in letter and spirit.