Implementation of the model code of conduct slowing down the government business has been cited as a motive for switching to simultaneous elections to Parliament and state assemblies. However, data from the election commission on the rate of disposal of proposals from government shows the perception is erroneous.
The model code is enforced as soon as elections are announced. Under the rules, the government is barred from making any announcement that can impact poll outcome in election-bound states and disturb the level playing field.
According to the EC data, 179 proposals were received between January 4 and March 2 by the poll panel, of which 24 proposals were cleared the same day, while 34 proposals (18.99 % ) were dealt within one day and 39 ( 21.78%) were cleared in two days. Only 29 proposals which required detailed deliberations were cleared in five days or more.
The model code of conduct has been enforced from January 4 on account of assembly polls in Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh.
Batting for simultaneous elections to the state assemblies and Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in 2016 indicated that frequent implementation of the model code of conduct stalls government work.
“Earlier, we used to face the electorate once in five years… But these days, at times, we even face the electorate three-four times in five years due to frequent elections,” he said delivering his valedictory address at the joint conference of chief justices of high courts and chief
Hinting at the model code affecting the government business, the PM said, “For 40-50 days, the decision-making process in the government is stalled due to the model code of conduct”.
Poll panel sources, however, say the impression is not quite right.
As per the rules, proposals for approval under the model code of conduct are put up for necessary permissions within three hours of receipt. All government decisions and announcements are submitted to the EC for vetting to rule of violations of the the model code of conduct.
During the current assembly polls in the five states, the EC received maximum 12 proposals from the ministry of health and family welfare, 10 from drinking water and sanitation, followed by nine from the rural development ministry.
In 15 cases, the poll panel advised the ministries and departments to defer the proposals till completion of the elections.
For instance, Niti Aayog was asked to defer release of Rs79.83 crore to poll-bound UP as one-time grant towards an earlier sanctioned project under the Bundelkhand Package in 2016-17.
The rural development ministry too was asked to put off the release of the first instalment to Goa under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana till after the polls