State Election Commissioner (SEC) N. Ramesh Kumar on Sunday directed the District Collectors and District Election Authorities to completely keep the ward volunteers away from the process of elections to the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in order to maintain strict neutrality, and not entrust to them (volunteers) the distribution of authenticated photo voter slips.
The volunteers should be restrained from direct or indirect participation and, thereby, prevented from influencing the outcome of elections by leveraging and misusing their reach to the public as a conduit of government benefits and schemes.
Mr. Ramesh Kumar also instructed that the movements of ward volunteers be closely monitored and their phones kept in safe custody as the database of the beneficiaries was likely to be leveraged and misused.
The SEC stated in a press release that serious complaints related to ward volunteers, as in the case of the gram panchayat elections, were brought to his notice during the consultative process with the political parties.
He observed that the elections to the ULBs were qualitatively different from the gram panchayat elections as they were fought on party lines. There was a need for strict neutrality of all categories of government servants, and the volunteers were no exception, he said.
The Commission, therefore, resolved to completely isolate the ward volunteers from the process of ULB elections being fought in a highly charged atmosphere.