Model code of still in place; it's no work, all play in Punjab

State of lethargy

As Punjab slips into lethargy waiting for an unprecedented long span between polling and counting for its next government, even sterilisation of dogs will have to wait because of the model code of conduct still in place. 

This is perhaps the longest period that Punjab has witnessed of the Election Commission’s model code of conduct. Two months and five days in progress and still another nine days to go before the poll-related verifications are finally lifted.

Votes for the Assembly elections, were cast on January 30 and the code of conduct will remain enforced till March 9. Until then, its ‘no work, all play’ in Punjab.  In the industrial city of Ludhiana, sterilisation of dogs was a top priority because of the alarming number of dog bite cases. 

But top officials said they are yet to make any change in the guidelines as suggested by the animal welfare organisations, following which tenders will be invited. The process has been on hold because the model code of conduct is still applicable in Punjab. 

The prolonged bout of the model code of conduct has brought the administrative machinery to a near grinding halt. Empty corridors of power and lethargic babus whiling away time, basking under the sun is a common feature in government offices and the state civil secretariat these days. 

Although the period between the voting date and the date of results has been unduly long, the EC argued there was not much that could have been done given that the seven-phase big ticket UP elections still to end.

In fact, the state has been in a ‘little-to-do-work’ situation  since December 24 when the EC announced the schedule for elections in Punjab along with five other states. For Punjab, this stretched-out model code schedule has been particularly taxing, given that the state has seen far less gap between polling and counting in the past.

The Assembly elections on February 7, 1997 saw a gap of just about two days between polling and declaration of results. Even during the previous Assembly elections in 2007, the gap was about a fortnight. 

According to sources, work on several infrastructure projects in the state will only take off once the code is lifted. Even the task to computerise birth and death records from 1947 onwards is yet to commence. 

The code of conduct remains applicable in Punjab and other states where votes have been cast to ensure noting impacts the smooth and fair conduct of elections underway in Uttar Pradesh.

While CM Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy CM son and MP daughter-in-law along with kids went to Dubai on a family vacation post elections during this period, many bureaucrats kept busy lobbying with top Congress leaders for plum posts, as if the return of Congress to power was guaranteed. 

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