Chandigarh, Nov 22 (PTI) In a significant move, the Haryana Election Commission has decided to treat ‘none-of-the-above’ or NOTA option as a fictional candidate in upcoming municipal polls, making it must for winning candidates to secure more votes than those cast for NOTA.

Elections to the municipal corporations of Karnal, Panipat, Yamunanagar, Rohtak and Hisar and municipal committees of Jakhal Mandi in Fatehabad and Pundri in Kaithal will be held on December 16, Haryana Election Commissioner Dalip Singh said Thursday.

In another first, the mayors of the five municipal corporations too will be elected directly for which the electors would cast votes, not only to elect ward councillors but also the mayor, through unique “multi-post electronic voting machines”, he said.

NOTA will be treated as a fictional electoral candidate. If in the election, all the contesting candidates individually receive less votes than those cast for the fictional candidate, NOTA, none of the candidates will be declared elected. The polls will be cancelled and held afresh,” he explained.

Singh said while declaring the results, NOTA will be treated as a fictional electoral candidate for the first time in the electoral history of the country.

He said the candidates securing lesser votes than NOTA would not be eligible to file nominations for fresh polls to be held later.

If a contesting candidate and the NOTA both receive equal valid votes, the candidate, and not the fictional candidate, shall be declared elected, he said.

But, in the case of re-election, if NOTA again gets the highest number of votes, the candidate with the second highest votes will be declared elected, he added.

The voting for the five municipal corporations will be held from 7.30 am to 4.30 pm, he said. The results will be declared on December 19.

As many as 1,092 polling booths will be set up in 136 wards of the five municipal corporations.

All main political parties in the state have said they would fight polls on their respective party symbols.

The nominations for the corporations and committees going to polls can be filed from December 1 to 6, except December 2 when it is a holiday.

The scrutiny of nomination papers will be undertaken on December 7, while the last date of withdrawal of candidature has been fixed to be December 8, Singh said.

He said out of ten municipal corporations in the state, polls have already been held in Gurugram and Faridabad.

As far as Sonipat MC goes, the delimitation process is yet to be completed. Once it is done, polls will be held there too,” he said.

About Panchkula and Ambala municipal corporations, he said, though the delimitation has already been completed there, it has been challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and is pending there.

Singh pointed out that with the announcement of the poll schedule, the Model Code of Conduct has come into effect within the municipal limits of all the civic bodies going to polls.

About direct elections of mayors, he said, it will be ensured through “multi-post EVMs” which would enable voters to vote separately for the mayor and the councillors.

He said elaborate security arrangements were being made for smooth conduct of elections in free, fair and transparent manner.

The Haryana police will take care of the law and order and security arrangements, he said, adding the sensitive and hyper sensitive booths are being identified.

Singh said the state poll panel would also appoint independent observers from among senior IAS, IPS and revenue officers for strict enforcement of the model code and to keep a check on the use of money and liquor in the polls, besides monitoring the expenditure by candidates and parties.

“The observers would report directly to me,” he said.

The state poll panel has fixed an expenditure ceiling of Rs 20 lakh for mayoral candidates, Rs 5 lakh for councillors and Rs 2 lakh for municipal committee members.

All candidates are required to maintain an account of their poll expenditures and submit it to the deputy commissioner concerned within 30 days after declaration of the results, failing which a candidate would be liable to be disqualified for contesting polls for five years, he said.

He said 531 such candidates who had contested civic polls in 2013 were disqualified for failing to give their expenditure details.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.