Candidates in the running for the coveted Lok Sabha seats must exercise caution, in word and deed, till the last vote is cast today.
Members of the static surveillance team seen outside Rahul Shewale’s residence in Chembur. Pics/Sameer Markande
The Election Commission is watching their every move, by placing specially formed static surveillance teams in their homes. Leaving no stone unturned, these teams will also be videographing everything that the candidates do, in case evidence is required later.
Each of the teams dispatched to keep an eye on the candidates will have the authority to shadow them all day, till voting ends around 6 pm. Besides the cameraman and others, each team would include an executive magistrate, who has the power to make arrests, if the need arises.
A Shaila, collector of Mumbai, said, “We have been asked by the Election Commission to keep a watch on the candidates, and so we have deployed the static teams outside the homes of candidates, and will be monitoring their activities.
The team would even follow the candidate and keep a watch on those who come to meet them, and take action in the event of any wrongdoing.” She confirmed, “The team would include an executive magistrate, who has been conferred the power to arrest anyone.”
The collector, who is also the election officer for the district, added that these steps are necessary to ensure a free and fair election. “In the last 48 hours, several election-related crimes take place. Liquor flows freely along with cash. This is the time when the Election Commission wants to be more vigilant.
Apart from the static teams, they have even formed flying squads, which will keep a special eye on the pockets where there is a chance that alcohol or cash could be distributed,” she said.
There are six parliamentary seats in Mumbai, with over 20 candidates vying for each. But the Election Commission is keeping watch only on the more prominent candidates.
The collector added that voters were required to show up at the centres before 6 pm. Every last person in queue will be allowed to cast their vote, as long as they make an appearance before 6 pm.
Politicians found the move slightly unnerving. “This has never happened earlier. Even though campaigning is over, we are being followed. We are holding meetings.
These are booth level meetings and so we do discuss things in details. We are being cautious. We feel a bit awkward, but we will get used to it gradually,” said a politician from the North East Mumbai constituency.