The Congress took exception to the BJP’s stand that the Election Commission of India’s fresh direction on poll code restrains the chief minister from taking decisions.
“The ECI order clearly means that the chief minister cannot exercise his powers till the poll code is effective in the state”, BJP state president Ajay Bhatt said. He was reacting to the ECI’s direction on Monday stating that the poll code, imposed on January 4, would remain effective till assembly election results would be out on March 11.
The Congress dubbed the BJP’s interpretation of the ECI’s direction as “motivated and biased.”
The top poll panel issued the direction after chief electoral officer (CEO) Radha Raturi urged it to clarify the areas in which CM Harish Rawat is permitted to take decisions.
Raturi sought the ECI’s direction after the BJP objected to the CM’s “important” decisions when the poll code was effective. Bhatt accused Rawat of taking decisions days after the state went to polls on February 15 in violation of the poll code.
He alleged that the CM cleared files, including the one relating to bottling plants, under pressure from the liquor mafia. Bhatt also accused him of clearing pattas (lease deeds) for mining besides bar licences, prompting the CEO to write to the ECI. The poll panel, in its order, indicated that the status quo would prevail on the poll code.
“We had written to the ECI urging the latter to issue directions on the aspects where he (CM) can exercise powers and we have got some reply which will soon be circulated among media persons,” CEO Rauri told HT, hours before the ECI order was officially released.
Reacting to the ECI order, the Congress said the chief minister was discharging his constitutional duties and had not violated the poll code. “That party (BJP) is making false allegations against the chief minister that he is violating the poll code,” Surendra Kumar, media advisor to the CM, said, adivising the BJP state chief to study the constitution and the Supreme Court orders.
“The apex court orders clearly state that the government will function even when the poll code is effective,” Kumar claimed, adding the chief minister “can’t go home and rest” because the poll code was effective. “He (CM) will have to discharge his constitutional duties,” Kumar said.
He accused “some officials” of the state election commission of playing at the hands of the BJP-led Centre. “Or else, the choppers flying the chief minister during his election campaign would not have been frisked by the election commission officials,” Kumar alleged. He claimed that the officials refrained from frisking the choppers and vehicles used in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah’s election campaign in Uttarakhand.
“All the choppers and vehicles used during our central leaders’ campaign in the state were frisked by the officials of the election commission,” Bhatt told HT.