Un-model code

Some of the actions of the Election Commission of India in the name of the Model Code of Conduct for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections indeed defy logic.

While the model code came into force with the announcement of Lok Sabha elections on March 5, along with it came a near-complete halt to the working of the government and decisions on any activity intended to be taken up by the administration.

While the model code being in force up to the day of polling is understandable, there is absolutely no justification to continue it well past the polling day. It is absurd, to say the least.

Imagine the fate of the North Eastern states where elections got completed (except in Assam) by April 9 and in some others like Kerala, Delhi and Haryana the next day.

The EC, on its own, should have clarified while announcing the election schedule that the code would be relaxed the moment the polling was over.

Instead, it chose to wait until most of the states came to it with requests to relax those guidelines.

This decision to relax norms was taken only on April 21.

Needless to say, several states where elections had ended early lost precious time in conducting normal governmental business, in taking decisions, implementing developmental works and other key measures.

Although the EC has relaxed some norms, there seems to be no clarity within the poll panel even now regarding some of the important works of the government.

Karnataka chief electoral officer Anil Kumar Jha has been quoted as saying that the EC guidelines, while allowing the government to proceed with on-going projects, has remained silent on whether fresh tenders can be sanctioned for works which are part of on-going large-scale projects.

Fresh recruitment exercise will require special permission from the EC. The same applies to official transfers.

The EC should have known answers to these important issues rather than maintaining stoic silence.

The model code is restrictive for candidates and parties too. To cite just two examples, the increased election expenditure of a Lok Sabha candidate of Rs 70 lakh in bigger states and Rs 54 lakh in smaller ones is but a joke.

Large-scale impounding of official vehicles too is unreasonable.

It is also time the EC took note of all these shortcomings and came out with clarifications so that there will be no scope for uncertainties in future elections.

Overall, there is need for a review of the model code.

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