Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh today inaugurated the 23rd All India Conference of State Election Commissioners by lighting the ceremonial lamp. In his address to the inaugural function of this two-day conference, Dr Singh said that entire nation including Chhattisgarh has strong roots of democracy. State Election Commissioners, Secretaries of State Election Offices and other officials of total 10 states and one union territory are participating in this conference. This includes Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Hariyana, Jammu-Kashmir, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andaman Nicobar islands.
As Chief Guest of the inaugural function, Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh said that despite the naxal menace in Bastar region of South Chhattisgarh, elections of all the democratic institutions including the three-tier Panchayat Raj Institutions are being successfully conducted. Large number of voters cast their votes in these elections. More than seventy percent voting even in the areas like Dantewada, Narayanpur and Bijapur area, reflects people's trust in democracy. Chief Minister said that state government has made it compulsory for the candidates contesting elections of Panchayat Raj Institutions to build toilets in their houses, which is a significant step towards achieving the goals of Clean India Campaign. In this function, Election Commissioner of India Mr. OP Rawat, Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh Mr. Vivek Dhand, Additional Chief Secretary Mr. MK Raut, Convener of Standing Committee of the Conference and State Election Commissioner of UT Chandigarh and NCT Delhi Mr. Rakesh Mehta, and State Election Commissioner of Goa Dr M Mudassir were present as special guests of the occasion.
Chief Minister further said in his address that history of Indian culture shows striking evidences of strong democratic values. He added that Election Commission is efficiently discharging its duties of conducting elections of Panchayat Raj Institutions, Urban Bodies, Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha in an independent, unbiased and transparent manner. Even in Lok Sabha elections, Election Commission ensures timely completion of vote counting in entire country and results are promptly declared. Officials and employees have to walk nearly 40 kms to reach far flung villages in Bastar region, to conduct elections there. He suggested that the problems arising due to large number of candidates in one constituency and also the ambiguities because of similar names of the candidates in an election should also be discussed in the conference. He said that inputs and suggestions received in this conference will contribute in conducting the electoral procedure in more efficient manner.
In his address to the function, Election Commissioner of India Mr. OP Rawat emphasized on importance of fair and independent elections and also underlined the need for curbing inappropriate use of money and force during elections. He advocated strict compliance to the rules and regulations for ensuring independent, unbiased and fair elections. State Election Commissioner of UT Chandigarh and NCT Delhi and Convener of Standing Committee of State Election Commissioners Mr. Rakesh Mehta also addressed the programme. Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh Mr. Vivek Dhand threw light on the steps taken by Chhattisgarh Government to empower three-tier Panchayati Raj in Chhattisgarh. He told that State Government has entrusted Panchayats and Urban Bodies with the responsibility to operate primary, middle and higher secondary schools, recruit panchayat teachers and aanganbadi workers, and select eligible beneficiaries for public welfare schemes. Major chunk of royalty received from minerals amounting to nearly 250 crore goes to panchayats. Welcome address was delivered by State Election Commissioner Chhattisgarh Mr. PC Dalai.