The Election Commission of India (ECI) recently appointed special observers in two categories (general and police) for six States, including Maharashtra.

A note issued by ECI recently stated that in Maharashtra, retired IAS officer Dharmendra S Gangwar has been made the general special observer and former IPS officer NK Mishra, the police special observer.

It mentioned that special observers (general and police) are deployed in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar since the population of these States is over seven crore each.

The ECI said that the special observers, former civil servants with brilliant track records in domain expertise and experience with election processes, were tasked to oversee the electoral process with strict vigilance, particularly against the

backdrop of challenges posed by the influence of “money, muscle and misinformation. It also said that the observers are expected to provide critical feedback and work to ensure fairness, impartiality and credibility of elections, and prevent any attempt to subvert the democratic process. It added that the special observers would supervise the personnel, security forces and voting machines. They would station themselves at the state headquarters and, if needed, tour sensitive areas and those which required necessary coordination.

They would focus on border areas and work towards plugging the inflow of inducements. They would seek inputs on the redressal of public grievances to respond quickly to counter false narratives and monitor the last 72 hours before polls to ensure free and fair elections.

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