Bhavika.Jain1

Mumbai:

It’s been 10 days since the Election Commission (EC) announced the Lok Sabha poll dates and complaints of code of conduct violations are already pouring in—some genuine, some not so relevant. The chief electoral officer has received nearly 640 complaints of violation of election code of conduct in the state.

The number can be attributed to increased awareness among citizens coupled with access to technology and in some cases, to sheer overzealousness.

The EC, this poll season, has developed an app, cVigil, where citizens can register code of conduct violation complaints. Of the total 639 complaints that were received on the app, only 250 were found to be genuine and acted upon while the remaining were either not related to the election code of conduct or were personal complaints, selfies, wrong photos and test complaints, said officials tracking the app. In the list of genuine cases, Pune topped at 74, while Mumbai had 35 and Thane 24.

One official said that in many cases flying squads reacting to complaints visited spots, but found nothing. “Since the app allows you to keep yourself anonymous, it is difficult for the squad to contact the complainant in case of a prank,” said an official. He said that at the district-level, awareness camps will be organised to ensure that genuine complaints go up. However, officials agreed that the huge number of complaints on the app reflected the fact that citizens had eyes and ears open.

Explaining how the app functions, additional chief electoral officer Dilip Shinde said, “To submit a complaint, a person has to take a picture and share it in on the app. Once the photo is shared, the GPS location of the spot is also received and shared with flying squads in the area. As per the protocol, the squad has to reach the spot and begin a primary investigation in 100 minutes of the complaint being registered.”

The election office has constituted three flying squads for each assembly constituency and also made available a video-recording squad.

Each flying squad has at least five officials, including those from the police, district administration and election department.

Data accessed by TOI shows maximum correct complaints were against posters without permission, property defacement and under the other categories. A total of 139 have been about illegal posters and 39 about property defacement category.

There have also been complaints of money and liquor distribution.