Govt denies move to muzzle EC

Govt denies move to muzzle EC

No proposal at GoM meet: Minister

Keen to avoid any controversy over its reported move to take the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) outside the purview of the Election Commission (EC), the Centre on Wednesday said the matter was not discussed at the meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Corruption here.

The Union government had on Tuesday denied media reports that there was  a secret move to take away the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) from the EC’s purview by giving it a statutory backing.

Speaking to mediapersons after the GoM meeting, chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy on Wednesday  said: “I would like to say that the terms of reference of the GoM on corruption does not include the MCC. Therefore, today in the deliberations, since it is not in the ToR, it was not discussed.” On being pointed out that the note circulated to members of the GoM clearly specified the issue of MCC, the minister said at the time of discussions suggestions in this regard did come.

“Suggestions will be there. But it is not part of the terms of reference (ToR). Therefore, the question of the issue of the model code of conduct being deliberated in the GoM does not arise,” the minister said.

The Congress party, meanwhile, termed the controversy over the MCC a deliberate act to sensationalise the issue. “This is a deliberate act to sensationalise an issue with no base,” the party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

Earlier, addressing media in the backdrop of EC censuring Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid for violating model code of conduct another Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari had suggested that MCC be given statutory basis.

The main opposition BJP appealed political parties for a joint response against the government’s reported move regarding the EC.

“This is an attempt to curb the powers of the Election Commission,” BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said . He added that “all political parties should stand up and oppose this move of the government.”

The GoM on corruption, headed by Pranab Mukherjee, has Home Minister P Chidambaram, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal and Law Minister Salman Khurshid as its members.