BJP's Covid-19 vaccine promise doesn't violate MCC: EC

Bihar polls | EC says BJP's Covid-19 vaccine promise doesn't violate poll code: Report

EC recalled its similar stand on Congress' NYAY scheme during Lok Sabha elections last year

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with BJP General Secretary Bhupendra Yadav (4th L) and state party President Sanjay Jaiswal (4th R) and others releases party manifesto ahead of the Bihar Assembly Elections, in Patna. Credit: PTI Photo

The Election Commission of India has ruled out that BJP's Covid-19 vaccine promise in Bihar is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), according to a report by The Indian Express quoting an RTI reply. 

"No violation of any of the provisions of Model Code of Conduct has been observed in the instant matter,” EC said in a reply to activist Saketh Gokhale's RTI.

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The commission cited certain guidelines for election manifestos contained in Part VIII of the Model Code of Conduct to conclude that the free vaccine promise was not violative of it.

"The Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the Constitution enjoin upon the State to frame various welfare measures for the citizens and therefore there can be no objection to the promise of such welfare in election manifesto," one of the provisions quoted by the EC said.

Trust of voters should be sought only on those promises which are possible to be fulfilled, the other provision cited by the EC said.

"It is stated that the election manifestoes are issued by political parties, candidates in respect of a particular election," the EC response said.

According to the report, the EC also recalled its similar stand on Congress' NYAY scheme during Lok Sabha elections last year, where the party had promised a minimum income of Rs 6,000 per month, Rs 72,000 a year, for 25 crore people.

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The BJP had sparked a row after Nirmala Sitharaman announced free Covid-19 vaccine as part of BJP's manifesto in the Bihar Assembly polls.

Opposition parties had slammed the BJP for promising free Covid-19 vaccines in its Bihar poll manifesto and demanded action by the Election Commission, while alleging that the ruling party was using the pandemic for political gains.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at the BJP, saying one has to refer to the state-wise election schedule to know when one will have access to the vaccine.

The BJP, however, said health is a state subject and its manifesto is for Bihar, not for the entire country, where it has promised that the state will buy the vaccine for its people.

The RJD, the Congress, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party and the National Conference all raised questions on the BJP's poll promise of free vaccine for Bihar, alleging that it is politicising the matter.

Gokhale wrote on Twitter on Friday, "ECI shockingly ignored the fact that the Union government announced it for a specific state and said action is taken when election atmosphere is vitiated."

With PTI inputs