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The Election Commission (EC) will come out with open-ended guidelines to regulate manifestos of political parties and also bring them under the model code of conduct.delhi Updated: Aug 22, 2013 00:06 IST
The Election Commission (EC) will come out with open-ended guidelines to regulate manifestos of political parties and also bring them under the model code of conduct.
The commission has worked out guidelines that would impose restrictions on political parties to announce freebies on the lines of religion and any other issue prohibited under the Constitution. It would mean that the parties would not be able to declare reservations for Muslims as reservation on religious lines is prohibited under the Constitution.
“Anything which is not allowed in the Constitution should not be part of the party manifestos,” a senior election commission official told HT. “We are clear that the manifestos cannot be against the spirit of the Constitution”.
This would be explicitly mentioned in the guidelines on manifestos to be released in a few days. More than coming out with the guidelines, the biggest problem for the commission is how to enforce it. For that, the commission will have to make the model code of conduct applicable to the manifestos. But, the code comes into force when the commission announces the election dates and it remains in force till the election results are out.
The commission has worked out an exception by making it applicable to the manifestos even if they are announced before the commission declares elections. For manifestos, the model code of conduct would be applicable up to six months before the expiry of the term of the legislative bodies — state assembly or the Lok Sabha.
An official said that the political parties do not have a problem on extending the code for manifestos provided the guidelines do not restrict their freedom. “We have taken into account several concerns raised by the parties,” the official added.
The commission would prescribe dos and don’ts on announcing freebies by the parties. It would include allowing freebies that relates to inclusive growth of the weaker sections of the society as a whole rather than a certain caste or religion.
“Free education for girls is not a problem but we don’t adhere to the idea of it being only for girls of one community,” the official said. The commission may also impose restrictions on providing free electronic items such as television in the name of social uplift.