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Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 11, 2013
The model code of conduct may be in force, but that hasn’t stopped politicians from finding newer ways of circumventing it. These days, park benches, colony gates and even garbage vehicles bear the name of leaders, both municipal councilors and MLAs, who reportedly used their funds to put these services in place a few months ago.

The Election Commission’s (EC) model code of conduct bans any form of advertising — pamphlets, banners or posters — that cannot be traced back to a party or a candidate. Since most of these services were provided with the help of public funds, leaders cannot take credit for them once the election code of conduct has been enforced.

Some of the prominent leaders whose names can be seen painted on park benches and gates include BJP councillor Subhash Arya (Rajouri Garden), Congress councillor Manju Setia (Subhash Nagar) and BJP MLA OP Babbar (Tilak Nagar).

Most of them defended their move. “We are not asking for votes. This was done some time back. If the corporation wishes, it can remove it,” said Subhash Arya, leader of the south Delhi Corporation.

Setia feigned ignorance and said, “I was not aware of this and will definitely get it painted.” Babbar said, “We have already removed many of these signages.”

Such transgressions are visible not just in west Delhi. The benches and swings in many parks of east Delhi’s Indraprastha Extension bear the names of elected representatives. So much so, that these names have been painted inside several housing societies of the area.

“Not only is it a violation of the model code of conduct, it is also a cheap way of attaining publicity at the cost of public money,” said Mukesh Sood, a resident of west Delhi and an RTI activist.

Friends of Rajouri Garden Environment, a green body, now plans to take up the issue with the Delhi election commission.

“The political parties have not even spared the garbage collection tipper trucks which are sporting the name of the local councillors on the front side. If this trend continues, the elected public representatives will even place their names even on tubelights and bulbs,” added Sood.

When contacted, Delhi’s chief electoral officer Vijay Dev said, “We are already taking strict action against anything which is violation of the code of conduct. Painting leaders’ names on park benches and colony gates amounts to defacement of public property, which is a violation of the model code of conduct. We will take action against such transgressions.”