Deccan Herald

 It is not just political parties gearing up for the State Assembly elections in 2013. Citizens, activists and non-governmental organisations along with the Karnataka Election Watch (KEW) have come together to launch a six-month campaign for free and fair elections. Speaking to Deccan Herald, Professor Trilochan Sastry, convener of KEW and founder member of Association for Democratic Reforms, said that like-minded people have convened a meeting this weekend to chalk out strategies for the campaign. “Citizens across age groups and genders, activists who have been fighting for fair elections, experts who have been following the State polls closely and media representatives will take part,” he said.   He said the purpose of the meeting is to raise awareness on voter engagement, the need to field and elect clean candidates and rally for free and fair elections. Round table discussions, sharing experience of the Assembly elections held in 2004 and 2008 and lessons that may be learnt from the past, will be discussed at the meeting, he added.Another member of the Association for Democratic Reforms said crucial information on candidates and poll proceedings which was collected during the previous elections will also be shared at the meeting.  “There are many legislators across party lines facing criminal and other kinds of charges and some such cases have not come to light. The idea behind the campaign is to let the voters know about the candidates they vote for. Similar checks will be conducted on fresh candidates,” he said.  Sastry said the campaign will be a citizen-led, non-political, non-partisan, non-governmental movement for improving the electoral and political system.  Data on cases “KEW, which is an offshoot of National Election Watch (NEW), will also get data on cases pending against Karnataka candidates, in other states. This is more important as many political leaders have been facing legal proceedings in neighbouring states. We will also keep a close watch on budget in times of polls,” he said.     

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