The Delhi state election commission has directed the Arvind Kejriwal government and the municipal corporations to remove the word ‘Aam’ from all bill boards, hoardings, name plates and banners in Aam Aadmi mohalla clinics and Aam Aadmi Byepass Express Service in the Capital as the model code of conduct is already in force for civic polls on April 22.
The order came in the wake of a complaint lodged by Vijender Gupta, leader of opposition at the Delhi legislative assembly, to the poll body last week.
“The nomenclature of the clinics and bus service named after the Aam Aadmi Party is sure to influence the mind of the voters in favour of the ruling party,” Gupta wrote in his letter to the state election commission.
The Delhi government runs around 150 Mohalla Clinics in various parts of the city. The Byepass Bus Service also covers large parts of the city.
The poll panel shot a letter to chief secretary MM Kutty and the three municipal commissioners on Tuesday directing them to either remove or cover the word ‘Aam’ from all forms of display in government offices and services.
The model code of conduct came into force on March 14, soon after civic elections were declared. The same will remain in force till the declaration of results on April 25.
The letter written by the deputy secretary of the state election commission has also directed the chief secretary and the three commissioners to submit a compliance report of the action taken within 48 hours.
Earlier, during assembly elections in UP, the Election Commission of India had directed the UP government to cover the word ‘Samajwadi’ written on 1488 ambulances under the Samajwadi Swasthya Seva initiative.
In 2012, the ECI had issued similar orders asking authorities to cover elephant statues – election symbol of the then ruling BSP – installed in Dalit memorials and parks.
‘Poll panel under pressure’
The Aam Aadmi Party accused the Delhi state election commission of acting under pressure from “its political masters”, demanding that it should “correct its mistake” of directing the Delhi government to remove words “Aam Aadmi” from all government schemes, mohalla clinics and bus service.
In a letter to the state election commission, AAP (Delhi) convener, Dilip Pandey termed the order “arbitrary” and alleged that the commission did not follow the due procedure by not issuing notices to the state government and the Aam Aadmi Party and allow them a hearing.
“Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinic concept is a new revolution in the field of healthcare and the model is being appreciated world over. It is quite natural that anti-people forces like the BJP are upset and are leaving no stone unturned to derail the programme. But what shocks us the most is the fact that the a Constitutional body like the Election Commission is acting as subordinate of its political masters and is taking orders from them,” Pandey said in his letter.
The AAP leader alleged that the officers in the Commission have ‘trampled’ over the Constitution by following the diktats of political leaders.
“It is Commission’s Constitutional duty to ensure a level playing field for all stakeholders and not to succumb to political pressure, which the Commission has unfortunately done. Does this mean that now the Commission will also ask the Chief Secretary to cover “Bhartiya” and “Janata” words, wherever they appear on government buildings, installations and billboards, as the two words figure in the name of a political party, the Bhartiya Janata party? Similarly, will the Commission also cover Words “Indian” and “National” from all government buildings, installations and billboards because they also figure in the name of Indian National Congress?”
Urging the Commission to immediately “correct” the mistake, Pandey said, if at all, the commission feels the need, it must allow an opportunity to the state government and the AAP before passing any order.