New Delhi, January 29: Just a few days before the election, the Election Commission of India which seems to be upset by the Modi government has written to Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha on Friday to remind him about the model of conduct wherein central government should contact poll panel before announcing their decisions.
Citing the recent decisions by the Finance Ministry and Defence Ministry the letter by the commission has noted out that the steps taken during the election season are not being announced after consulting the poll panel. The commission notes out that these decisions could affect fair and free elections in the five poll-bound states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur and breaks moral code of conduct.
The letters sent by the Commission says:
“In certain cases, the ministries/departments took decisions, which have effect of disturbing level playing field of poll-bound states, without referring the matter to the Commission, particularly by Niti Aayog, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Finance.”
As per the Model Code of Conduct the party in power is bound to not use its position to get voters’ favour in elections by its decisions or actions as a ruling party. Hence, the central government needs to refer all decisions to the Election Commission before implementing or announcing them before the term of elections.
Recently Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had also said that the poll panel was never consulted by the Modi government on presenting the Union Budget on Febeuary 1. It was opposition parties that took the matter to the EC’s notice.
Later on, the commission approved the Budget presentation on February 1, just three days before the first phase of the elections on the condition that the government will not make any announcements regarding central policies for the poll-bound states.
The assembly elections are scheduled for 2 states– Punjab and Goa on February 4, while results of all the five states will be announced on March 11.
Similarly, the EC found out about the Combined Commanders’ Conference only when the PMO officially sought the commission’s approval for PM Narendra Modi’s presence at the January 21 event in Dehradun.
As per Indian Express, the Defence Ministry, in its response to the EC defended their decision to move ahead with the Commanders’ Conference as the decision was taken in December 2016 while the Poll Panel reminded the ministry as per the Law, the EC ‘has’ to be consulted even for the decisions made before the announcement of polls.
In the same fate, the EC later permitted the PM’s conference on the condition that the Commanders’ Conference would not turn into a public rally and there will be no announcement regarding serving or retired soldiers by the PM.
In another development the EC had directed NITI Aayog to defer Gram Sabhas in the five poll bound states.