Paid news an emerging challenge: Quraishi

New Delhi, April 30: Paid news, a recent challenge thrown up before the Election Commission, is a “clandestine deal” between politicians and journalists, Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi said here Monday.

“Rising number of political parties, frequent elections, increased number of voters have thrown new challenges before the Election Commission of India and paid news is one of them… (it) is a clandestine deal between a politicians and journalists,” Quraishi said at the three-day Conference of Heads of Election Management Bodies of SAARC Countries.

The conference will discuss the road map for election management bodies of the member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

“We, the member countries of SAARC, account for one billion electorate which is about 60-70 percent of the total electorate of the democracies of the world. This is a matter of pride and at the same time of various responsibilities. We are the beacon of democracy for the entire world,” he said.

Chief election commissioners and other senior poll officials from Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan and India were present in the event to share their best election administration and management practices.

Topics such as empowerment of election management bodies, inclusive elections (covering gender issues, marginalised sections and minorities), voter education, controlling money power and use of technology for cost-effective polls would be discussed at the conference.

Quraishi expressed the hope that the conference would help all members countries to address their electoral problems.

The idea to hold such a conference was mooted in April 2010, during the 37th Session of the Standing Committee of SAARC in Thimphu.

IANS