EC ticks off NITI Aayog VC for attacking Cong's NYAY

EC ticks off NITI Aayog VC for attacking Cong's NYAY

Rajiv Kumar

The Election Commission on Friday conveyed its “displeasure” to NITI Aayog vice-chairman, Rajiv Kumar, for criticizing the Congress for promising to launch a minimum income guarantee scheme in case it wins the Lok Sabha polls and returns to power.

The EC observed that NITI Aayog vice-chairman had violated the Model Code of Conduct by making a comment on the NYAY scheme promised by Congress. “The commission has therefore decided to convey its displeasure to you for your comments and expects that you shall exercise caution in future,” the poll-panel wrote to Kumar.

The NITI Ayog is a policy think-tank of the Government of India.

Kumar, in spite of being a “public servant” as the vice-chairman of NITI Aayog, had taken to Twitter on March 25 to criticise the Congress's poll promise to launch a scheme entitling the poorest 20% of the country to a guaranteed minimum annual income of Rs 72000.

“True to its past record of promising the moon to win elections, Congress President announces a scheme that will burst fiscal discipline, create strong incentives against work and which will never be implemented,” Kumar had posted on Twitter. “The cost of the #MinimumIncomeGuarantee scheme at 2% of GDP and 13% of the budget will ensure that real needs of people remain unsatisfied.”

“Congress party promised #GaribiHatao in 1971, #OROP in 2008, #FoodSecurity in 2013 to win elections, but couldn’t fulfil any of those. The same unfortunate fate awaits the populist and opportunistic promise of #MinimumIncomeGuarantee,” he had tweeted.

The EC had issued him a notice on March 26, asking him to show cause why his comments should not be taken as violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

The Model Code of Conduct came into force on March 10, the day the EC announced the schedule of the Lok Sabha polls as well as the elections to the legislative assemblies in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim.

Kumar had written to the EC on April 2 that he had made the comment as an economist, not as the vice-chairman of the NITI Ayog. He had also written to the commission that he had the right to speak out his mind as an economist on important issues concerning policy and economy. He also said that his remarks should not be construed as the official stand of the NITI Aayog.

“The commission has considered your reply and has not found the same to be satisfactory,” Narendra N Butolia, principal secretary to the EC, wrote to the NITI Aayog vice-chairman.

“The spirit of Model Code of Conduct requires all public servants to ensure the sanctity of the electoral process, not to either engage in or appear to engage in any activity that disturbs or appears to disturb the level playing field of conduct of elections or creates doubts in the mind of stakeholders about integrity of the electoral process,” the EC wrote to Kumar. “Public servants should not only be impartial in their conduct, but also in their public utterances, which was found wanting in the instant case.”

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